You May Think You Do Not Need Education…(Part 1)

As an Educator I am often faced with talent that abandons their education when they begin it, are midway, or just before completion citing “too much workload”, or “I can’t cope” and the famous line, “I don’t really need this qualification to ‘make it’”.

I once had a young man tell me he’s quitting school because “there are plenty of talented cats in my hood who are sitting around doing nothing”… the idea that he might just be one of the “talented cats” in his hood that could be getting up daily to make a living in the creative field did little to spark a fire under his bum enough to urge him to “make it” (and by that I mean, out of the hood; because once the hood has got a grip on your mentality, there is no turning back).   I feel sadness for this young man because he is so focussed on what he is not, and on what he cannot have, that he fails to see who he might yet become.

In the media we are fed stories of people who have achieved great successes, yet did not acquire tertiary education.  All this is good and well considering that they are the exception and not the rule; so logically my assumption is that if there is already one of her, there is certainly no room for another; my path has to be different, but it will lead me to success all the same.  Outside of entertainers and sports personalities, I do not know much of major players in a discipline that did not require much education; particularly those who run businesses and lead organizations.

I read Professor’s Jansen’s “’I hold a degree’ and you can do nothing about it” on Nelson Mandela’s defense in the Rivonia Trial; where Mandela began his defense with the words, “I hold a bachelor’s degree in arts”.

To even begin to understand the import of these remarkable words you have to place yourself within the context. It was 1964. In that year only 298 Africans passed “matric” with university entrance and a mere 98 were awarded bachelor’s degrees in the previous year.  Even today holding a first degree would distinguish a young South African from disadvantaged communities; in the 1960s such an achievement would have been stupendous.

 We should pause to let that marinate for a bit.

The notion of “unemployed graduates” still astounds me; considering the number of jobs that are advertised daily.  I am not implying that the unemployment is without cause, but I do know a few graduates who walk through the gates of the varsity, head home and never fix a CV or send it out.  I don’t know how you will get employed bruh; no one’s searching for you.

I’ve been asked by parents “…msize mntanami, ukuthola umsebenzi” I’ve even heard that from my own parents a few times on behalf of the parents who are desperate to help their children find employment.   They have sacrificed so much in their upbringing; they placed all their hope in the financial independence and socio-economic success of their child.

A degree pre-supposes that you can hustle; you can find work for yourself.  If you are unable to find work in your chosen field, you can certainly find work in a sub-field, or even a side-field for that matter.  You understand the requirements of a job and how to handle yourself professionally.  Hell, I would make options that are beneath what I think is my station “in the meantime”, while I’m looking for work in my field of choice.  I know a young man who is an “unemployed graduate” of graphic design, he doesn’t seem to find work in the field of Graphic Design, so he sits, “ngihleli” *shrug.  Shoot bruh; are you too fancy to be an admin assistant? a receptionist? Because I can tell you nothing is beneath me if I’m looking for my break.


…to be continued

*off to find an unemployed Multimedia Graduate’s father possible opportunities for employment


Writer: Tebogo Serobatse @Tebogo101