What does it mean to be a successful learner or graduate in today’s world? While in years past, a solid acquisition of the “three Rs” (reading, writing, and arithmetic) and mastery in the core academic subjects may have been the measure of attainment, the world of the 21st century requires a radically different orientation.
To participate effectively in the increasingly complex societies and globalized economy that characterize today’s world, students need to think critically, communicate effectively, collaborate with diverse peers, solve complex problems, adopt a global mindset, and engage with information and communications technologies, to name but just a few requirements.
The world of work and communication is changing rapidly. Therefore educators need to prepare learners with the 21st century skills they need to thrive in today’s digital and globalized society.
In South Africa, many young people are disengaged. They are not finishing school. They do not see the purpose of school. Even if they do finish school, they do not see a future for themselves. They are frustrated and disillusioned, with pent up energy that has nowhere to go or apathy that leads to depression. A youth unemployment rate of 74% does little to alleviate this.
E3, the Department of Basic Education’s flagship programme in South Africa, seeks to equip educators to prepare students to be solution-seeking active participants in the world after school. We live in a project-based world. Think about it. Whether you’re planning a virtual field trip or creating the perfect work-from-home space, you’re working on a project. In fact, many of us organize our tasks by projects and work collaboratively with other teams and colleagues to solve problems. E3 aims to bring authentic learning into the classroom so that learning has real-life applications and thus real meaning to learners.
The primary purpose behind the creation of project-based learning methodology is that it encourages learners to think interdependently, communicate with clarity, manage impulsivity, take responsible actions and apply past knowledge to new experiences as they explore real-world challenges and apply what they learn in a dynamic classroom environment. The endgame is the effective creation of better work habits and improved attitudes towards learning, resulting in the long-term retention of skills. Project-based Learning unlocks 21st century competencies and solution-seeking mindsets so that the youth become employable, engaged and entrepreneurial.
Working on projects is how we function in the real world—in both our personal and professional lives—and that’s why Project-based Learning is becoming increasingly popular in education. This teaching approach helps students build real-world skills like critical thinking, communication, problem-solving, and project management while tackling complex academic content.