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Relationship-centered schools are the way of the future

When it comes to the future of education, you may think that teaching children to be more technologically-minded is the way forward, and while developing this critical skill for a 4IR world is incredibly important, more and more value is being placed on school-leavers who can operate in creative, flexible and empathetic ways. So says Frank Rumboll, Executive Head at Curro Rivonia. These skills are 21st century imperatives, he says, and is why teaching them to young children from as early as Grade R is vital.


Called ‘Foundational Learning’ – which starts at Grade R and concludes in Grade 4 – these formative years should not be overlooked as they set the groundwork for all future learning, and experiences in life and the world of work. Further, the future workplace is unknown. If a child started Grade R this year, he or she will matriculate in 2034 and enter the adult world, after a qualification a few years later. Parents need to prepare for the unknown as opportunities and employment spaces that most of us have never dreamt of will be the norm. Along with more value being placed on people who can operate in creative, flexible and empathetic ways, Rumboll predicts an ability to develop, create and sustain healthy, empowering relationships will be the differentiating factor of the future.


“Schools that embrace the development of these skills or, ’Relationship-centered’ schools as they are called, will best prepare young people for future success. Among this is the need to read, which is a critical life-long skill. We also need to ensure that learners understand how to problem-solve using maths and real-life scenarios. They then need to communicate their plans and listen to those of others. We believe that this holistic development affects their social, personal, intellectual, emotional and physical growth. Our children’s future will also require character and values that are aligned with bravery, kindness, resilience and an openness to difference, newness and an ability to rethink convention. Equipping young people to feel comfortable with this reality should be a schooling system’s first priority,” says Rumboll.


No truer is this than in the South African context he says. “We are committed to nation building in every possible way. We design learning programmes and experiences which ensure an authentic and comfortable alignment between what our learners are becoming and South Africa’s need for wisdom, tolerance of difference and respect of how historical realities have wounded the heart of our nation. We prioritise the power of hope in all we say, do, teach and learn – from the get-go of our learners’ schooling lives.”

A focus on empathy, leadership and communication is already of interest to employers – and will continue to be in the future. “Many industries in South Africa, leverage emerging 4IR technological breakthroughs such as artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing and biotechnology to streamline business processes, enhance offerings and create new solutions. But we need to retain our ‘humaness’ and ensure that our young people are able to engage with other, in a collaborative manner.

“Learners have to learn how to learn; the world is rapidly changing and the need to learn never ends. This could mean learning a new skill or generally needing to ‘learn-on-the-job’. If we do not teach our children how to learn from a very young age, we are underserving them for a changing world that is evolving so fast,” says Rumboll.

And while technology plays a more important role in learning than ever before, the teacher’s role remains equally important to ensure that innovative, learning opportunities are created to develop skills that will complement the use of technology. The use of pen and paper is still highly encouraged.

Just consider how far we have come in a generation from when learners’ parents were in school. “Technology was hardly a ‘thing’ back then, while today it is a vital part of a learner’s everyday life. However, we cannot and must not ignore how important it is to develop human skills from a young age that will equip these learners with abilities to rationalise, care and understand one another, while also developing resilience and reflection that will set them up for life. It follows then, that relationship-centred schools will best prepare children for future success,” concludes Rumboll.