Recently, I sat down with Roger Collins, Development Manager of NewBridge, in Durban, to find out about the challenges and opportunities that exist in the further and higher education establishment.
(Q1) Roger, is the standard model of post-school education in crisis?
The simple answer is No. The standard model works well for the purpose it was designed for, but its success depends largely on the reasons students attend. The problem lies not with whether the model works or not, the problem lies in the fact that the model is not relevant for so many students.
Students leave school and seek post-school education not to learn, they go to get a qualification because they are led to believe that it is the key to a job. Many school-leavers are just not prepared for this journey; they do not know much about what they chose to study, academically they lack the basic understanding of the requirements and their expectations are misaligned.
As much as there is an important place for University (and there always will be), there is an equally important place for alternatives – models that look to empower school-leavers with a skill set that prepares them for a life-time of opportunities and enables them to find where they can best make a difference.
(Q2) How do you see this process unfolding, that is, will the problems in the sector resolve themselves or is there a need for something to constructively disrupt the sector?
We live in the age of disruption, so there is always a need to look for ways to constructively disrupt the status quo. Even the standard model is looking at ways of embracing change, but will always be restricted by their size, regulation and bureaucracy.
I believe just as revolutions start small with ideas that spread, so educational innovation will be driven by small institutions whose ideas will spread and profoundly impact on the lives of their students and ultimately education as a whole.
(Q3) As an educator and as an education administrator, how do you nurture talent whilst at the same time developing ability?
I think the key to this is a laser-like focus on, not only how we teach, but what it is we teach. At NewBridge our classes are small, and this enables us to make sure that each student receives the support they need to persevere and succeed.
Through an ongoing Professional Development Programme, the goal is not to prepare students for graduation – the goal is to prepare students for life after graduation by teaching them to bridge the gaps through life, view the world from different perspectives and embrace change.
(Q4) In terms of this opportunity, what courses, programs and qualifications are available through NewBridge?
NewBridge does not offer, provide or confer qualifications – NewBridge is an independent learning platform that offers support and facilitation towards registered and accredited qualifications from recognised institutions both locally and internationally.
We support degree programmes in business and marketing, National Certificates in Fitness, Sports Management and Hospitality and Tourism as well as short learning programmes and non-higher education certifications for industry and career-aligned programmes and portfolios.
All of this is underpinned by our key differentiator – our integrated teaching and learning methodology, Professional Development Programme and work experience. This unique approach builds independent learners and equips them with an entrepreneurial mindset.
(Q5) How important is a holistic post-school education experience?
Learning and development is about far more than what happens in a classroom. Our approach to a holistic education experience is to look to build collaborations that provide platforms for our students to find what interests them and to engage in the student life they want.
Collegians Rugby Club, Durban Surf Lifesaving Club, Munies Hockey Club and DHS Old Boys are some of the collaborations we have in place.
(Q6) And finally Roger, do you consider there to be a future for the NewBridge model in other parts of the country?
I once asked if an education option came along that offered a superior learning approach, would anyone notice? There will always be a future for innovative approaches to education – their success will depend on whether anyone takes the time to notice in the noise.
From this you can see that there are definitely options in the further and higher education sector, that is in terms of post-school education, that provide supportive and nurturing environments to prepare modern minds.
Newbridge is located at 189 Stephen Dlamini Road, Musgrave, Durban and can be contacted through +27311008104 (0311008104), [email protected] and www.newbridge.life for more information.