Graduation speech by Dr Karen Deller

Over the last few weeks, many of our personal here at have been jetting off all over the country to host the graduation ceremonies of our Banking NQF 4 and 5 students. Our graduation road show hit the following locations:

  • 18 May – Nelspruit – 12:00 – Emnotweni Hotel
  • 19 May – Polokwane – 12:00 – Fusion Boutique Hotel
  • 24 May – Johannesburg – 09:00 – Indaba Hotel, Fourways
  • 25 May – Durban – 09:00 – Elangeni Maharani Hotel
  • 26 May – Cape Town – 9:00 – Nedbank Clocktower
  • 30 May – Bloemfontein – 10:30 – President Hotel, Bloemfontein
  • 31 May – Kimberley – 09:00 – Garden Court Kimberley
  • 6 June – East London – 09:00 – Hemmingways Hotel
  • 7 June – Port Elizabeth – 12:00 – Garden Court Kings Beach

The key note address was given by Dr Karen Deller. If you missed it, here it is:


“I was called upon recently to deliver an address at a series of graduations throughout South Africa for the same project.  That’s one per province to a very diverse group of over 2000 graduates.  The two things they had in common was the qualification they had achieved and their employment status as banking sector employees.

Now, delivering a graduation address is a great responsibility – I need to leave the new graduates with a message that can impact their thoughts.  Something they can remember and use to keep on growing and learning.  Now of course I could have just defaulted to Dr Seuss, my childhood favourite author who wrote:

You have brains in your head

You have feet in your shoes

You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.

You’re on your own –

And you know what you know.

You are the guy who’ll decide where to go…

And left it at that, but I had 10 minutes so I decided instead to talk to them about the disruptive trends effecting adult training.

A disruptive trend is something that upsets the currently accepted way of doing things.  In education and training, we mostly all think that training means a classroom, sticky buns at tea time, a person preaching to us from a stage, pre-printed notes, a course guide and a formal assessment but things are changing – even in education.

Just as Uber is disrupting transportation and AirB&B is disrupting the accommodation sector so there are seven key trends that I think are disrupting the way we get education and training as working adults.  (And to tell the truth these are probably the first disruptive trends in education since the printing press made textbooks freely available.)

The harsh reality of corporate-sponsored training these days is that money is tight and the training that most organisations are likely to fund will be job-specific and business-focused.  This is not the kind of training you will need to get a promotion, change jobs and remain relevant in the changing workplace.  From now on if you want that kind of training you are more than likely going to have to research it, source it, enroll for it and pay for it yourself.

So, onto the disruptive trends in adult education (as I see them):

  1. Online learning – this is probably the biggest single potential disruptor of education and training for working adults. It allows you the freedom to get the learning you need, when you need it, how you need it and in your own space – all without sitting in a cold classroom for hours on end listening to the lecturer read the notes to you.  No need to sit in traffic to get to class.  No need to go anywhere but home.  Online learning can take multiple forms, from online lectures, custom developed e-learning, games, online readings, videos and a combination of all of these.  These are all available, today, in SA at minimal or no cost.
  2. MOOCs – massive open online courses – where you can attend lectures online, for free from prestigious international and local universities and colleges – think Harvard or Oxford or even Chartall Business College. When you have the learning, its yours and no one can take it from you.  And if you need a piece of paper to prove to some one other than yourself that you have it, then you can apply for recognition of prior learning (RPL) which you are all more familiar with than most people because you have been through it;
  3. So, RPL is also a disruptive force in education. With RPL formal credits can be awarded for any learning you can prove regardless of where or how you learnt it.  Time you spent in a seat in a classroom is now no longer the only way to get those sometimes needed formal credits.  So, potentially, you can do a few online courses and attend a few MOOCs that are not formally assessed and if you need the actual certificate you can apply for RPL locally;
  4. Free or almost free learning content – locally we are seeing the #feesmust fall protests, but in many other countries new graduates are saddled with increasing debt from student loans and no prospects of employment. There is a growing realization that learning must be available to all who want it so that everyone can take their rightful place in the economy.  But the bricks and mortar providers can’t cut costs – buildings are expensive to maintain – so less expensive education will be found off campus on the web.
  5. The rise of social learning and collaborative learning – where we don’t just learn from the lecturer. The internet, mobile devices and participatory culture are all disrupting the traditional teacher-student relationship.  The relationship of teachers and students is moving towards more of a partnership. There is an emphasis on guiding discovery and co-creation.  Now, it will take a mind shift to get into it – but once you are here it is empowering and far more rewarding than traditional-sit-at-the-back-of-the-class-learning;
  6. The rise of training that is not formally assessed, but which is workplace relevant and immediately usable and practical. The cost of assessment is partially what leads to higher cost and if all you need now is the knowledge then don’t wait until you can afford an expensive bricks and mortar classroom – go online now, do a non-credentialed course and start practicing.  If you find you need the formal certificate later on, think about RPL or enrolling on an advanced credentialed course;
  7. Customised training for each individual, with pre-assessments to determine your immediate needs, non-linear content that allows you to dip into the content you want, when you want it. And chose in how you get the learning – from video, to reading, to games and any combination of these in any order.  And to chose how much or how little you want to engage with online lecturers and classmates.  In others words, the days of one size fits all training has gone.  You, the student now determine what you want, when you want it and how you want it.  That’s exciting.  It puts you in charge of your learning journey.  You are no longer reliant on your employer to decide when to send you on which training and how it will be delivered to you!

So these are some of the disruptive forces in education that have the potential to help you stay on the learning path.  We call it your lifelong learning journey because it certainly does not stop today on the day of your graduation.

So this is my challenge to each and everyone of you.  Pick up your mouse and go onto the internet.  Think about a skill you want to learn and google it.  Its all there – programming, flower arranging, time management.

This disruptive learning is everywhere – if you are not doing it the person next to you will be doing it.  Its cheap, relevant and in your power to get.  And guess what?  If you don’t do it the person next to you will.  And then they will get the job you want.  Success is your right – and it is just a click away – make the click and get on with it!

And to end with my favourite author again…. Dr Seuss:

Today you are you,

That is truer than true.

There is no one alive

Who is youer than you!


Oh the places you’ll go,

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting

So… get on your way!


And will you succeed?

Yes you will indeed!

98 and ¾ percent guaranteed…


Well done and good luck – from all of us!”

Dr Karen Deller

Chartall Business College graduation address

1 Comment

  • by CRYSTAL MEYERS Posted 28 Jun 2016 17:14

    Thank you! That is truly informative as well as inspirational

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