As reported in the Sunday Times, the Nelson Mandela Foundation has announced plans to launch a programme that address the shortage of guidance and support for young people. The Champion Within programme will address the pressing need for formal training in critical thinking for South Africa’s young People. Their recipe for success in built upon the approach that they will support youngsters who are already making strides towards a better life. The key is to harness the existing potential for success by identifying independent thinkers who, in spite of social pressures to buy into a culture of anti-intellectualism, pursue lofty academic and professional goals. The programme is estimated to cost 5.6 million ZAR and funding will be an issue according to Life College founder Pat Pillai. However, organisers stress that raising the funds is a hurdle that can and will be surmounted and should not be a factor that precludes students from participating.
For more information about how you can participate in or help support this programme please visit the Nelson Mandela Fund website.
The Times published an article by Justice Malala on June 13, in which he discusses what he sees as the biggest social problems confronting South Africa in response to the issues outlined in the diagnostic overview of South Africa, a report released by Trevor Manual and the National Planning Commission. Malala’s main argument is that South Africa should not feel content with the progress that has been made in the last two decades, because it still faces big challenges.
One of the biggest challenges is the continued failure to improve the quality of education. Although the government spends about 6% of GDP on education, the public education system is floundering, literacy and numeracy test scores are low by both African and global standards and a wide gap in schooling quality for black and white learners persists. The South African health system is in distress as well; life expectancy is lower than it should be and infant mortality rates are still high. Finally, corruption and irregular over-payment are also massive strains on the system, totaling about R30 billion a year, an amount which could go a long way if it was spent on alleviating poverty.
The document is realistic and convincing. It touches upon many other challenges such as unemployment, inadequate infrastructure, poor public service, class and racial divisions, myopic view of politicians and weakening state and civil institutions. The good news is that these problems don’t fully negate the progress South Africa has already made and they are not insurmountable as long as they are managed. Now, more than ever, it is important that politicians and citizens work together to fix these social problems to ensure a better future for all South Africans.
To read complete document go to: http://www.npconline.co.za/MediaLib/Downloads/Home/Tabs/Diagnostic/Diagnostic%20Overview.pdf