Designers reposition the past of future education by going back to ''S'kool''

Many of us would prefer to forget our school days, leaving memories of scratchy uniforms, unpronounceable Latin songs and exam halls buried forever. But let's say, metaphorically speaking, that you were given the opportunity to return to your old school as a student once again, only this time, armed with a sense of maturity and, hopefully, a little more worldly-wise. What aspects of your school would you change? What aspects, if any, would stay the same?
This was the scenario presented to the fourth year design students at Pretoria University. Under the guidance of guest lecturer Iaan Bekker, the "Back to S'Kool" assignment formed an integrated media project covering identity and information design. The aim of the project - to critically asses the future needs of tomorrow's professionals and measure this against the identity, persona and functions that schooling and socialising have on emerging South Africans.

And if the end results are anything to go by, then these students have afforded South African Schools the opportunity to step out of the dark ages and reflect our changing, multicultural society, repositioning the past of future education to create a sustainable schooling system - through design.

Iaan Bekker, creative director at brand design agency Enterprise IG wanted to encourage the students to utilise 3600 integrated design thinking. "Although a theoretical exercise, the purpose of this project was to teach the students to take every element and touch point of the 'client' (the school in this case) into careful consideration - a judgement they will continuously have to make when in the working world."

Looking into both social and economical fundamentals, the Pretoria University students had to remain cognisant of factors such as demographics, history and tradition, technological advancements and the changing multicultural profile of scholars etc., without excluding parties like teachers, parents, students, the immediate community and even business.

Taking a multitude of design disciplines, selecting the most appropriate and culminating them into one exercise, outcome was both interesting and varied amongst the students. Solutions were, in most cases, durable and authentic. Practical solutions looked at modernising identities, uniforms and collateral, bringing many schools out of the dark ages and in-line with society today. A more technical approach was adopted by some, adapting curricula and tapping into global education networks. A social and societal outlook saw a selection of students re-evaluate the profile of their old schools, making allowances for lower income scholars.

The project is the grand finale for this talented group of students, as they complete their studies and make key decisions relating to their future career paths. "I hope the project has encouraged them to think about what direction they would like to take when embarking on first time employment next year," says Bekker. "It's a competitive environment out there for creative talent and young designers need to select their career path wisely. It was my intention that the project expose them to various design disciplines, removing some of the indecisiveness when it comes to choosing between corporate, consumer, retail and self employment options."

In a mere three weeks the students gave schools such as Pretoria Girls High, Waverly Girls High, Hoerskool Silverton and Kearsney College complete design makeovers. It will be interesting to monitor the changes, if any, these schools will implement once their past scholars have had the opportunity to present their design solutions to them.

If you would like to know which schools were covered in the project or view the work produced by the 4th year Pretoria University Design students, please ring Isabel Lubbe on (012) 420 2353.

Editorial contact
Enterprise IG
Tracy Hyams
Tel: (011) 319 8064

21 Oct 2004 13:14