Education Futures: Stories to Banish Sleep

Storytelling was at the heart of a creative and mind-stretching scenario planning session which explored the forces that could shape the South African education system of the future.

Last month we reported on our partnership with Wits School of Governance on the ‘deep dive’ we are doing into the systems levers relating to teaching and learning. As part of this research for the FirstRand Foundation and the FirstRand Empowerment Foundation, a two day scenario planning workshop was convened on 26 and 27 May. Twenty eight thought leaders in education from across the country – representing funders, academics, unions, government and civil society organisations – came together to formulate ‘future scenarios’ according to a scenario planning methodology. The Parktown Scenarios workshop was facilitated by Koffi M. Kouakou and Geci Karuri-Sebina, both experienced scenario planning facilitators.


Scenarios are stories about how the future might unfold for our sectors, our communities and our world. The purpose of scenario planning is to ‘create a map of uncertainty’ through exploring the visible and hidden forces that are driving us towards the unknown future, so that we can consider the opportunities and threats that may need to be addressed in any strategic thinking . For the purposes of the FRF project research, the BRIDGE and Wits team were drawing on the highly experienced and knowledgeable individuals in the room to stretch our thinking in relation to potential strategic levers for educational change.

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The group came up with two major points of reference to framework our futures thinking: the impact of the economy along a continuum of an inclusive to an exclusive economy; and the impact of capacity (human and organisational) along a continuum of high capacity to low capacity. Four groups produced four scenarios within the framework of possible permutations of these factors.  The four titles of their stories will give our readers a tantalising taste of the range:

  • Education against the Odds (in an exclusive economy with high capacity)
  • The Nadine Scenario (in an inclusive economy with high capacity)
  • People’s Education Re-imagined (in an inclusive economy with low capacity)
  • The Road to Nowhere (in an exclusive economy with low capacity).

Watch this space!


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