Each year on June 16th we have the opportunity to remember the events that took place on the streets of South Africa in 1976. Youth Day, as the day has been named, in 2012 will be remembered by about 500 people as a great day in our history. It was on this day that the first TEDx event for education was held in Cape Town. For those of you who have not heard of the TED Talks then perhaps it would be a good idea to spend some time on the TED website (www.ted.com).
20 speakers, each speaking for either 6 or 12 minutes, shared their one big idea for education. The ideas ranged from the fundamental restructuring of our education system to turning learning into a circus! Yes, we were entertained by some incredible people with incredible ideas and all had their good measure of merit. Seeing some of the speakers ‘choked’ up with the emotion of their feelings caused one to swallow hard and recognise the depth of feeling that we all have for the future of our country. Deep sincerity, deep knowledge and deep skills were in abundance and from my wonderful vantage point at the front of the auditorium, where I was manning the door, I watched as every face remained riveted on each speaker as they shared their ideas.
Having left on a high, after spending this exhilarating 8 hour day with such special people, my mind has remained in a state of turmoil. Whilst immediately celebrating the day across the road from the event in a pub, where we could all watch our beloved Springbok team whip the English for the second week running, my usual 100% ‘bok’ focus was not all ‘there.’ Words, phrases, tweets, images, sounds, thoughts have all continued to cascade through my mind and even today, one day after the event, I remain quite unsettled. This feeling is one which I have experienced on a number of occasions before and it usually means that something significant is brewing and that I need to ‘up my game.’
The ‘burning platform’ of an education system that continues to fail the large majority of our country can only be changed by the citizens of our country – that means me! One of the wonderful voices in South Africa is that of Dr Mamphele Ramphele, and her commitment to enabling and leading change was a stark reminder to us all, given she provided us with 12 minutes of her wisdom during the final talk of the day, that the future lies in our hands and that unless we wanted to witness the slow death and degradation of our future population in South Africa, the time to act is now!
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