What do you think is our nation’s biggest asset? Perhaps it’s South Africa’s gold and precious metals reserves? Perhaps it lies in the range of its beautiful natural biodiversity, from the Cape to the mighty Drakensburg? Or is it its people, and the range of cultures and languages that our population shares? I guess a natural follow on from this might be it’s unity, pride and unique ability to deliver world class athletes, statespeople, visionaries, authors, thinkers and events.
For me, South Africa’s biggest asset is it’s children.
Our children have the opportunity and clear frame of mind to take our country forward. They collectively share in the talent and our nation’s history to learn from the past and fashion a country that thrives on a global stage. Children who continue to challenge “why” things are done in a particular manner, will lead the way to new frontiers. The children of South Africa make our nation colourful.
A risk to this incredible asset is what we do (or do not do) for our children today, will have a direct bearing on both our future lives and theirs. If we do not make the time to share our experiences and knowledge with them, and inspire them to take a grasp on the future, we stand to lose a great deal. In a global perspective, our focus on the youth should be even more magnified than in other countries. As the talent market is no longer regionally or nationally segmented, our youth need extra care and support in order to really shine internationally.
The headline article in the Business Report today highlights this through attributing a R550bn annual loss that is directly associated with illiteracy. Currently, the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2010 ranks South Africa 137th out of 139 countries based on quality of maths and science education. With 3.3m illiterate people in our country currently, the scale of this problem cannot be more underlined. Education is just one of the threats to our children. We cant forget about the impact of HIV/AIDS, crime, poverty and hunger. All impositions for which our youth have done nothing to deserve.
We are blessed with so many assets in our wonderful country. Each, however, is a fragile resource, and something that needs care and nurturing for it to be fully realised and enjoyed by the generations that will proceed us.
So, what do you think is South Africa’s biggest asset?