It came to me as a big surprise that many South African education professionals seem to regard Life Orientation as an insignificant, to some even a worthless part of our education. Many learners also seem to view life orientation as unnecessary, boring and irrelevant. This attitude is not unique to South Africa; a British study showed that more than three-quarters of schools were failing to provide sufficient guidance (life orientation and study- and career development) to pupils in the last few years of secondary education.
Only when I was 23 I decided I wanted to become an educator. I dropped-out of school at 17. Since then, I had engaged in a non-accredited training programme and in a fantastic social service opportunity through which I found my dream career. Dreams might fade if they are not accompanied by confidence and direction towards their achievement. It almost happened to me. My confidence went down when I was told that exams to enter higher education were very difficult; I got lost trying to find out what my study options were, and ended up very skeptical that I could have any options at all.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) fully supports the notion of increased access to career advice for South African youth. NSFAS administers loans and bursaries to disadvantaged students for tertiary study, but in addition to the economic support offered by our organisation, NSFAS further deems it of utmost importance to liaise with key partners in the field of career guidance to offer a more holistic approach to further education in South Africa.
South Africa is getting obsessed with the improved matric results while no attention is given to career guidance. Lack of career guidance at our schools is evident when year after year the majority of these matriculants flock to universities while further education (FET) training colleges are far from achieving government’s target of enrolling one million learners by 2015.