Five Credits. These are the requirements for a Mauritian student to start her/his journey to be able to join the higher education sector. We are totally out of touch with what the world needs today. Moreover three credits with grade 3 and two passes with grade 7 (grade aggregate 23) is much better than five credits with grade 6 (grade aggregate 30). We have to review urgently the requirement which is a relic of the past, to be in line with the digital world. A fairer requirement would be a minimum of 3 credits and a maximum of 25 in the grade aggregate of the best 5 subjects. All students in secondary education and in higher education need to have at least a fair knowledge of how the world of work has evolved. We must provide our students with all the resources required to make them become tomorrow’s useful citizens. Or are we going to turn a large number of them into frustrated adults and drug addicts?
Higher Education and Skills Development
The big problem with Mauritius is that we think that education is only academic education, and parents jump to the conclusion that if their children cannot take the traditional route to higher education they will become second class citizens. This feeling is heightened by the fact that there is no well-established alternative to higher education. They do not realize that today there are more jobs requiring skills in the technical areas, in electronics and in ICT. The pandemic has shown us that the concept of work from home is gaining ground everywhere in the world, and will expand further. Digital platforms like ZOOM and others are replacing physical Conference Rooms. The need to travel has been drastically curtailed.
The alternative to attending Form VI should be made attractive to students who are better at developing their skills for the new digital world. The Polytechnics should have an important role to play in developing the skills of the students in the field of digital technology. The Polytechnics need to be part of the Higher Education system to give them the boost they deserve.
A Ministry of Higher Education and Skills Development will then become a more effective tool for Mauritius to move into the digital world. The Open University of Mauritius (OUM) is best suited to use the digital platforms for discussions, lectures and conferences. The other institutions will follow, but will use them less extensive.
Work from your villa by the beach
We cannot continue to believe that the tourism industry will return to ‘normal’ soon’. If it does it will be a miracle. We have to learn from the ways the world has been reacting to the damage inflicted on fragile industries, and tourism is a fragile industry. But the solution will depend on the strengths and strategies of each country.
Mauritius had to look for alternatives when the sugar industry faced difficulties on the world market. This is how tourism emerged and became very successful. Today tourism needs a new image. Why not pull down the old hotel rooms that needed renovation anyway, and replace them by villas and apartments with all the required top quality digital facilities? There are many foreigners and foreign companies which will want to take up the opportunities to work from a villa by the beach away from overcrowded big cities. This is going to be the new challenge, and I am sure Mauritians can once again show to the world that they have the competence to meet this new challenge.