What does Pioneering Education For Impact mean?
Education for Impact ®
Honoris United Universities’ core mission is to prepare and to educate solutions-oriented leaders and professionals who are able to operate successfully in the world’s youngest and fastest growing continent – individuals who are capable of impacting tomorrow’s economies and communities.
To achieve this, it’s imperative that our member institutions pioneer education but with so many different interpretations, what exactly does Pioneering Education For Impact mean? Two of our leaders, Dr. Amine Bensaid (Computer Science and Engineering), President of Université Mundiapolis, Morocco, and Dr. Ahmed Shaikh (Business Administration and Leadership), Managing Director of Regent Business School, South Africa, discuss the concept and why Pioneering Education For Impact can drive growth in Africa.
Fundamentally, both leaders believe that Pioneering Education For Impact should be primarily driven by the needs of students, with employability being a hallmark in tertiary education today. “Pioneering Education For Impact is about making sure that our students graduate with more than just an education,” says Dr. Bensaid. “For the last five years, our number one priority has been to work with students on boosting their personal development and their employability through a full programme that runs parallel to the curriculum, and which has been developed with feedback from students and staff, as well as from direct employer input.” This programme, named MundiaTawjih (with Mundia coming from Mundiapolis, and Tawjih meaning “orientation” in Arabic), tackles five key challenges that Université Mundiapolis has identified as success factors: employability, orientation, communication, self-confidence, and the balance between self-confidence and behavioural intelligence. An elective program, students who take part in MundiaTawjih have seen significant improvements in employability levels, with 75% securing employment within 3 months of graduating. “We’ve been driven by the initiative to speak to what our students need, and then fine-tuning and adjusting the programme via benchmarks and best practices,” continues Dr. Bensaid. Speaking to its success, the MundiaTawjih programme was identified by the World Bank as a 21st Century Strategy for Tertiary Education and Employability in MENA.
In South Africa, Dr. Shaikh and REGENT Business School have been similarly driven by a need to prepare their students for a rapidly changing working world in a slow to adjust educational environment. “Labour market disruption is unlike anything we’ve seen in human history. The way that we’re teaching and learning, and the way that we design our curricula have to be directly influenced by this disruption so that our students are empowered with the skills they need to be assets to the companies hiring them,” says Dr. Shaikh. “So, Pioneering Education For Impact means working with and adjusting to the changes in the labour market in order to best prepare our students for the working world.” Much like Université MUNDIAPOLIS’ approach, REGENT Business School’s solution to these challenges is made up of a combination of different approaches, which are rooted in a practical education format. “To be candid, often times employers criticise higher education by saying that we are training students for irrelevant roles in business. Globally, there are a quarter of a billion young people who are excluded or are not in the global economy and are not creating value or doing decent jobs. If there are this many young people unemployed or underemployed, something is wrong with the way that the labour market is being built, and with the model of higher education and training. So, we need to be awake to this reality, and we need to make changes quickly. With businesses around the world using ever-more sophisticated digital technologies such as AI, the pressure is on for employees to be equipped with the ability to adapt – and adapt quickly. iLeadLAB, as Honoris’ pioneering Employability Centre within REGENT Business School, plugs into this demand. This employability lab is a practical manifestation of our need to create more ‘plug and play’ students who are prepared to enter the work force, as the lab empowers them with the soft skills they, and businesses, need.”
On top of these educational structures to empower students, both professionals further stress the importance of exposing learners to real-world working experiences. “We have introduced co-op education in the sense of alternating between going to school and doing internships. For example, with business law, forth-and fifth-year students spend the first semester at the university and during their second semester, spend four days with an employer and then one or two days with the university,” explains Dr. Bensaid. “Two years ago, we also introduced this scheme for the Master in Finance and the Master in Logistics, and this year we introduced it for our computer engineering, industrial engineering, and aeronautical engineering programs. We are having students spend time with the employers through this co-op, so when they graduate, they have the edge of professional experience in their chosen field and of adapting to the culture of the world of work.”
As we move forward, Dr. Shaikh stressed that disruption in the labour market is only set to increase due to factors like AI technology and the skills revolution. “In the last century, by and large, teaching and learning have remained the same,” says Dr. Shaikh. “The external environment has changed dramatically and we need to shift from teaching students in a way that only prioritises the acquisition of disciplinary skills, because these don’t guarantee employability. The way to pioneer a new educational model is to have activities and experiences that teach these soft skills in a co-curricula way ensuring our students have a skill set that emphasizes employability on a parallel track to the formal curricula.” A concept that is being pioneered through REGENT Business School’s iLeadLAB, and Université MUNDIAPOLIS’ MundiaTawjih programme.