Understanding the Education Landscape in the 21st Century


In the 20th century society valued compliance and conformity, where corporations dominated and people expected to work for the same company for decades and the education system prepared students for that reality.


Although the 21st century brought with it a greater demand for flexibility, creativity, and agility, the education system lagged behind. 

In 2020, with hard lockdown restrictions being enforced as an effort to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus, education as we know it was brought to a halt, which would ultimately change the landscape of learning and spearhead the revaluation of the education system.

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To ensure that learners did not miss out on the rest of the academic year, majority of schools opted for e-learning as an aid to continue classes. This should prove to be a challenging transition, even more so for pupils from lower-income households who did not have access to the necessary resources to do homebased education.  

As we reflect over the past year, it’s important to address the challenges the education sector has faced, exploring the current stance of education in a world still reeling from the effects of the pandemic. On the 29th of July, from 10h00 CAT, through a series of expert panel discussions, talks and one-on-one interviews, led by prominent academics and leaders in business from Africa and the globe, CNBC AFRICA in partnership with FORBES AFRICA, and leading sponsors across the education and tech industries, will be hosting their second virtual and 7th Annual Future of Education Summit.

“We must equip young people to step into the workforce not only with the hard and soft skills that they need to succeed, but with an innovative and pro-active approach to their roles. We must work with existing managers to develop the leadership and management skills that are critical to leading high-performing teams and ensure that they remain up-to-date with shifts in technology and the context in which their organisations operate. At a senior level, we must help senior leaders from the public and private sector to use a high-level, strategic approach to develop their vision - and provide them with a truly global perspective, that will allow them to see risks and opportunities that no one else has and successfully lead through change and uncertainty.” 

says Dr. Catherine Duggan, Director (Dean), Graduate School of Business University of Cape Town.


This year’s summit will encompass a plethora of thought-provoking topics, which will seek to analyse, encapsulate and dissect the international education climate.

Education is to help each individual reach their potential in whatever field brings them joy, to teach people how to learn and equip them for lifelong learning, and to develop people into citizens and workers who can contribute to society, it therefore demands the necessary interventions to ensure it remains current. 

“Educators should be making decisions on how technology can be harnessed to best serve their teaching and development goals. To achieve this, educators have to guide the conversation on what EdTech innovation should be achieving for them and their students as opposed to being mere stakeholders in the decisions around which technology is used and how it is applied. Edtech promises greater outcomes, increased performance and simpler administration after all, but it should stay true to its aims by putting educators in the driving seat when deciding what’s best for their learners and programs.” 

says Myles Thies, Director of Digital Learning Services; Eiffel Corp.


The panel topics to be covered include:

  • Panel 1: The purpose of education in the 21st century
  • Panel 2: Closing the skills gap & building capacity – The 21st century curriculum
  • Panel 3: Is lifelong learning becoming more imperative in the new world of work and skills development?
  • Panel 4: The latest technologies transforming the face of education
  • Panel 5: Prioritising education in financing decisions 

“What is increasingly apparent is that we need to move away from traditional approaches to education, which tend to produce one-dimensional graduates who have found the evolution of sectors a challenging environment. Instead, we need to equip students for these inevitable shifts. We need an education system that prepares learners and students for a future that is driven by technology. This can be achieved through the creation of a more multi-disciplinary educational experience, focused on an integrated curriculum in which science, engineering, humanities, social sciences come together. Revisioning the curriculum should not only be fit for industry but should train students to be innovators and the creators of knowledge.” 

says Prof. Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg.


One-on-One interviews to be conducted:

  • Professor Mark E. Smith, Vice Chancellor: Southampton University on the purpose of education in the 21st century.
  • Kumeshnee West, Executive Education Director, University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business to unpack innovative leadership in a knowledge-intensive economy.
  • Professor Mohammed Salifu, Director-General of Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) will uncover the role of accreditation and regulation in the new world order.



  • Tom Bennett, Director and Founder of researchED to address the need for 21st century skills in the 21st century. 

“South Africa is privileged to have so many talented youths who are hungry to learn and want to work. Helping them achieve their full potential and follow their dreams regardless of where they started in life should be a passion and priority for all of us,” 

says Lianne Williams, Head of Marketing at Vuma. 

“We need everyone, not just those in the private sector or the telecommunications industry, who has a sense of ‘Ubuntu’ and a desire to see South Africa succeed; to do whatever it takes to create sustainable, lucrative futures for our youth.” 

William’s concluded.


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Speaker line-up:

  • Rakesh Wahi, Founder of The Future of Education Summit and  Co-Founder; ABN Group
  • Professor Mark E. Smith, Vice Chancellor; Southampton University
  • Professor Malcolm McIver, Provost; Lancaster University: Ghana
  • Professor Seth Kunin, International Deputy Vice Chancellor; Curtin University: Perth
  • Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, Vice Chancellor; The University of Cape Town (UCT)
  • Busi Mabuza, Chair of the Board; Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC)
  • Will Fan, Co-Founder and CEO; NewCampus: Singapore
  • Dr. Catherine Duggan, Director (Dean); University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business
  • William Mzimba, Chief Executive Office; Vodacom Business
  • Myles Thies, Director of Digital Learning; Eiffel Corp
  • Professor Andrea Nolan, Principal and Vice Chancellor; Edinburgh Napier University
  • Professor Gary Martin, Chief Executive Officer; Australian Institute of Management: Western Australia (AIM WA)
  • Dan Adkins, Group Chief Executive Officer; Transnational Academic Group (TAG)
  • Kumeshnee West, Executive Education Director; University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business
  • Dr. Felix Panganayi, Founder and Director; Windsor School of Excellence in Science and Technology, Zimbabwe
  • Dean McCoubrey, Founder; My SociaLife
  • Tom Bennett, Director and Founder; researchEd
  • Dr. Kingsley Nyarko, Member of Parliament: Kwadaso Constituency and Former Executive Secretary; Ghana NAB
  • Eric Idiahi, Co-Founder & Partner; Verod Capital
  • Gary Kirsten, International Cricket Coach, Leadership Consultant, Philanthropist and Entrepreneur; CoachEdCricket
  • Professor Puleng LenkaBula, Vice Chancellor; University of South Africa (UNISA)
  • Professor Mohammed Salifu, Director-General; Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC)
  • Sean Lewis, Manager, Asset Lifecycle Management; Vodacom
  • Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Vice Chancellor; Wits University


This half day summit will be free to attend, virtually, on Hopin. 


The Future of Education Summit is proudly sponsored by the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, Vodacom Business, Eiffel Corp, The University of Johannesburg, Vuma, Transnational Academic Group, Lancaster University: Ghana, as well as Curtin University: Dubai. 

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