The social impact project “Overcoming Career Circumscription and Compromise" – which offered career guidance to Grade 9 learners in communities with little to no resources – is so crucial that efforts must be redoubled to ensure the project's continuation.
This was the conclusion of the team and funder responsible for this project – a joint effort between the Departments of Psychology and Industrial Psychology at Stellenbosch University (SU). Earlier this year, more than 80 students and staff members worked together to develop material and present workshops to provide career guidance to more than 1 000 learners in eight historically disadvantaged schools in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Delft in order to assist them to make appropriate subject choices.
The project was funded by the Rupert Foundation. A feedback session was hosted on Thursday, 26 July to school representatives, community members and the funders.
With the shift in education to the Outcomes-based education (OBE) curriculum, one of the serious problems in the higher education system has been the lack of career guidance, according to project leaders Mrs Michelle Visser and Prof Tony Naidoo.
“In schools across South Africa, Life Orientation teachers now have the task of preparing adolescents to make choices about their future. However, these teachers face considerable constraints and demands on their time which contribute to limited career education.
“Because of adverse socio-economic conditions, many learners have limited perspectives of career options and the paths to achieve their career aspirations and are inclined to circumscribe and compromise (i.e., place limits) on their potential choices."
This intervention sought to assist learners to, among other things, explore and identify their vocational interests and other career attributes, link their career attributes to career choices and make informed decisions about their choice of senior school subjects. The Life Orientation teachers were involved in the project to ensure school capacitation.
“We saw this project as part of the social impact contract that the University has with its community. It is one of the University's strategic objectives to be a knowledge partner and to engage in meaningful interactions with our communities where we can link what we teach and what we research with service," added Prof Naidoo.
Students who formed part of the project spoke about the impact it had on their lives and preconceived ideas.
“We were often blown away by the learners' variety and abundance of potential," they said.
Ms Carin Venter, principal of Kylemore High School, thanked the project team.
“You opened a whole new world for our learners. The feedback from both learners and teachers was very positive and we appreciated the extra mile you walked with us."
A group of mothers of learners in Rosendaal High School in Delft were also grateful.
“Our children are going to stand out from the crowd. They will be able to become professionals because they are going to have the right subjects to prepare them for tertiary education," they said.
Ms Priscilla Booysen, Director of the Rupert Education Foundation, mentioned that there is a deep need for these kind of projects. According to her, they are often confronted by the challenge of learners applying for bursaries without having the right subjects for the career they wish to pursue.
“We should definitely investigate how one could make this project sustainable and scalable. Thank you for allowing us to be part of this beautiful, dynamic process," she added.
Photo: The project team. Photographer: Anton Jordaan, SCPS