The Power of Education

By Maha Sinnathamby AM

Just four months after he left prison, Nelson Mandela travelled to the United States to deliver one of the best speeches of his remarkable life.

Mandela, after 27 years in prison, was standing in a packed, steamy Boston high school when he looked at the students and told them:

“If there is any appeal I could make it is that (young people) … must take it upon themselves to ensure that they receive the highest education possible,” Mandela said.

“The power of education extends beyond the development of skills we need for economic success. It can contribute to nation-building and reconciliation.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Mandela said this before technology ignited a learning revolution. But his words remain true.

The old models of education that we knew – finish Year 12, head for higher learning or vocational education and move into a job for a longtime or even a lifetime – are being challenged.

In their place is the uncertainty of the coming years. What jobs will we most need to fill and who is qualified to do those jobs?
The world will be led by the best innovative thinkers. And that’s a race that Australia must be in.

On Wednesday 20 July in Springfield City, we brought together some of the nation’s leading educators to discuss how we can adjust our thinking for this rapidly changing world.

Are schools ensuring the students of today are being equipped with the skills for the jobs of tomorrow?

Are universities keeping pace with the best ways to engage with a generation of students raised in a new era of technology?
And do we have the right approach to lifelong learning?

Can universities tap into the huge opportunity to engage with those aged 60-plus who want to learn until the day they leave this life?

Our Future of Education Series will offer many questions that can help our policymakers plot a way through this new world.

But they must address the bank of brainpower in this country.

As a country we have lost our brightest minds as they leave for opportunities overseas. We need to address this with a three-pronged strategy.

Firstly, we must retain our great talent in this country.

Secondly, we need to be a beacon to attract further talent from overseas.

Thirdly, we need to uplift our existing talent to ensure they are equipped to deal with the challenges of a changing world.

Without this concerted effort, we will not have the resources to compete in this era of innovative thinkers.

In Springfield City, we have set the scene with our Knowledge Precinct, built on health, education and technology.

We’re creating a space in which innovation, entrepreneurship, design and collaboration are interconnected. This will lead to the growth, exchange and development of ideas that will not only enhance our region but the nation and beyond.

Our educational institutions are integral to that.

Education is the currency of the future. Education is the only currency that you can cash in anywhere in the world. And it is the only currency that can’t be stolen from the owner.

We have 19 kindergartens, 11 schools (planned to increase to 23 schools), a TAFE campus and a university campus within an eight-minute drive of each other.

Springfield is truly committed to foster the brainpower that can fuel the future of Australia in this era of innovation.

Australia needs more of that education currency here, from our youngest to those still trying to improve their minds.

It’s our nation’s passport to the future success of this country.

Maha Sinnathamby AM is Chairman of Springfield City Group