Blog

This one is for board members. It is easy to say “Yes, thanks, I accept nomination to your Board”, but board positions come with a lot of responsibility that many of us may not know about. Here is a quick quiz for you and your fellow board members - you should at least know the answers to these questions below. In fact, all organisational staff and board members should know the answers - and there are many more that could be added.

Use these questions to hold a quick quiz with your board and with the organisational staff team:

  1. What type of entity is your organisation?
  2. What type of document of formation/ founding document does the organisation have? (what is it called)
  3. What is the legal governing authority or registration body for your organisation?
  4. What other state institutions/ government departments is your organisation accountable to?
  5. What other registration documents does your organisation have or need to get?
  6. When was the organisation founded?
  7. Who is the Chair of your board?
  8. How many board directors/ members/ trustees do you have?
  9. Who are they, and what particular skills do they bring to the board?
  10. What official registration of directors/ trustees is required, if any?
  11. How long is a board member’s term of office in your organisation?  What are the rules on this in terms of the kind of entity?
  12. Who was your most recent funder?
  13. Who are your organisational accountants/ auditors?
  14. What is your key responsibility as board member?
  15.  When last did the board sign off on a set of audited annual financials?
  16. How many paid employees does your organisation have?
  17. What is the name of your organisation’s flagship project or core programme?

For information on core governance practice, values and ethics go to www.governance.org.za for South Africa’s Independent Code of Governance for Nonprofit organisations.

For additional tips and information on governance more generally, refer to www.nonprofitlawyer.co.za for great resources.

  • Gabrielle Ritchie is a director at The Change Room.
“Every time you do a good deed you shine the light a little farther into the dark. And the thing is, when you're gone that light is going to keep shining on, pushing the shadows back.”
 
The 18th July is Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s birthday a day marked as Nelson Mandela International Day – known as Mande Day here in South Africa. A day we all know to be a day of Good-Deeds; a day which we are all asked to give 67 minutes of day to touch someone’s life, a day on which we remember his words “It is in your hands to make of our world a better one for all.” Adding by saying “it is in your hands to a different”
 
2016 Mandela Day is already here; you might have started making plans for yourself or for your company/organisation/group and you might have already found a place where you will be making a difference. New Jerusalem Children’s Home would like to thank you for taking the first step to plan towards changing someone’s world to the better – as you plan for the day and plotting activities you may wish to do for 67 minutes or more minutes we would like you to think of this words which were once said by Charles de Lint of Netherlands “Every time you do a good deed you shine the light a little farther into the dark. And the thing is, when you're gone that light is going to keep shining on, pushing the shadows back.”
 
The children, old age homes and schools are always in many people’s hearts when it comes to making a difference during this important time of the year, it is with no doubts that we as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) need your help and appreciate your efforts and dedication to touching our world. There are many ways you can make our world a better one during and after Mandela Day, the question has always been how do we make that life impact and push the shadows back long after Mandela Day has gone?
 
New Jerusalem Children’s Home has put together a few basic steps to making a lasting from this remarkable day;
  • First we need to understand the world we wish to make a difference in – therefore we need to visit that world and see what it has and what it needs.
  • It is always important to understand things which affect the world we wish to touch during this period, let’s have a cup of coffee with project/center managers of the NGOs or schools we may wish to dedicate our Mandela Day time to.
  • Ask questions like “when we are gone will this that we wish to do in your organisation push the shadows back?”
  • Involve NGO’s you wish to assist in all your plenary, yes time might be a challenge but the value will Push the shadows back long after the day has passed.
  • Let your experience talk, but allow their ground work knowledge lead your conversation in making a difference in their world.
 
Last year Mandela day activities might have been a success in a another organisation, the same focus might not give you the equal or better success in a different organisation you may wish to visit this year, therefore understanding what an organisation need and channeling your energies to what they need will give you more than your dedicated time or spending on the day. We as NGOs value you as donors, sponsors, partners and friends of organisations talk to us and hear what we truly need for our sustainability and continuation of our work.
 
Our wish for 2016 Mandela Day can best be seen and heard in this words “Every time you do a good deed you shine the light a little farther into the dark. And the thing is, when you're gone that light is going to keep shining on, pushing the shadows back.”
 
Click here for our New Jerusalem Children’s Home 2016 Mandela Day wish list.

University of Pretoria, South Africa

17 July 2016

Well, thank you. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Graça Machel, Professor Ndebele, Vice Chancellor de la Rey, members of the Mamelodi families, friends and dignitaries. 

I can’t think of a greater honour than giving a lecture named after Nelson Mandela. 

I’m also thrilled that the theme of this lecture this year is ‘Living Together’. 

It’s truly fitting because in many ways, ‘Living Together’ was also the theme of Nelson Mandela’s life. 

The system he fought against was based on the opposite idea -- that people should be kept apart, that our superficial differences are more important than our common humanity. 

Today, South Africans are still striving to ‘Live Together’ in the fullest sense. But you are so much closer to that ideal because Nelson Mandela and so many others believed in the promise of one South Africa.
I was only nine years old when Nelson Mandela was sent to Robben Island. As a boy, I learned about him in school. I remembered seeing reports about the anti-Apartheid movements regularly on the evening news. 

The first time I got to speak to him was in 1994 when he called me to help fund South Africa’s election. 

I was running Microsoft, and largely focused on software most of the time, but I admired him so much, and I knew the election was historic. So I did what I could to help. 

My first trip to Africa had been just the year before that in 1993 when my wife Melinda and I had traveled to East Africa. 

The landscape was beautiful, the people were friendly, but the poverty there, which we were seeing for the first time, disturbed us. It also energised us. 

Obviously, we knew parts of Africa were poor, but being on the continent turned what had been an abstraction into an injustice we couldn’t ignore. 

Melinda and I had always known that we’d give our wealth to philanthropy eventually. But when we were confronted with such glaring inequity, we started thinking about how to take action sooner. 

This sense of urgency was further spurred on by another trip in 1997 when I came to Johannesburg for the first time as a representative of Microsoft. 

I spent most of the time in the richer part of the city in business meetings, but I also went to the community centre in Soweto where Microsoft was donating computers. 

My visit to Soweto, which was quite different then than it is now, taught me how much I had to learn about the world outside the comfortable bubble I’d lived in all my life. 

As I walked into the community centre, I noticed there weren’t any electrical connections. To keep the computer on, the one I was donating, they had rigged up an extension cord connected to a diesel generator outside. I realised the minute I left, the generator would get moved to something more important. 

So as I read my remarks about the importance of the technology gap, I knew that it was only a small part of the story. Computers could help people do very important things, and in fact, they are part of how life on the continent can be revolutionised.  But computers alone can’t feed disease or cure children. And if they can’t be turned on, they can’t do much at all. 

So after that, Melinda and I moved to start our foundation because the cost of waiting had become clear.

Our work is based on the simple idea that every person, no matter where they live, should have the opportunity to lead a healthy and productive life. 

We’ve spent the past 15 years learning about the issues and looking for the leverage points where we can do the most to help people seize their opportunity.

It was when I started coming to Africa regularly for the foundation that I got to know Nelson Mandela personally. AIDS was one of the first issues our foundation worked on, and Nelson Mandela was both an advisor and an inspiration. 

One thing we talked about was the stigma around AIDS. So I remember 2005 very clearly when his own son died of AIDS. Rather than stay silent about the cause of his son’s death, Nelson Mandela announced it publicly because he knew that stopping the disease required breaking down the walls of fear and shame that surrounded it. 

It is important to recall Nelson Mandela’s legacy, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to do so. 

But Nelson Mandela was concerned about the future. He believed people could make the future better than the past. And so that’s what I want to focus on for the remainder of my talk. 

What can South Africa become? What can Africa become? What can the world become? And what must we do to make it that way? 

The Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] adopted by the United Nations in 2000 laid a foundation that enabled the world, including Africa, to achieve extraordinary progress over the last 15 years. 

And the Sustainable Development Goals that recently replaced them set even more ambitious targets for creating the better world we all want. 

When I talk about progress, I always start with child survival because whether children are living or dying is such a basic indicator of a society’s values. 

Since 1990, child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa has been reduced by 54 percent. That means one million fewer children dying each year compared to 25 years ago. 

Ten African countries achieved the very ambitious MDG target of reducing child mortality by over two-thirds. 

At the same time, the incidence of poverty and malnutrition is down. And though economic growth has slowed in the past few years, it’s been very robust in many African countries for more than a decade. 

This is real progress, but the Africa Rising narrative doesn’t tell the whole story about the life on the continent. 

First, the progress have been uneven. You know this very well here in South Africa. 

In last year’s Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, the French economist, Thomas Piketty, pointed out that income inequality in South Africa is, quote, “--higher than pretty much anywhere else in the world.” 

In general, African countries tend to have higher rates of inequality than countries on other continents. And despite healthy average GDP [gross domestic product] growth in the region, many countries have not yet shared in it. Inequalities exist within countries and between countries. 

So until progress belongs to all people everywhere, the real promise of living together will remain elusive. 

Second, even with the great progress Africa has made, it still lags behind the rest of the world in most indicators. In sub-Saharan Africa, one in 12 children still die before they turn five.  Now, that’s a vast improvement compared to 25 years ago, but African children are still 12 times more likely to die than the average child in the world. 

And because rates of poverty and malnutrition aren’t shrinking as fast as the population is growing, the number of people who are poor or malnourished has actually gone up since 1990. 

Finally, the progress is fragile. The continent’s two largest economies, here in South Africa and in Nigeria, are facing serious economic challenges. And new threats require attention. The Ebola crisis pointed out weaknesses in many national health systems. The effects of climate change are already being felt among farmers in many countries. 

In short, to meet the ambitious goals of the Sustainable Development Goals, Africa needs to do more, do it faster, and make sure everybody benefits. It won’t be easy, but I believe it can be done.
 
The successes and failures of the past 15 years have generated examples and lessons we can follow. Phenomenal advances in science and technology are expanding the range of solutions available to solve development challenges. And then there is the ingenuity of the African people. 

One topic that Nelson Mandela came back to over and over again was the power of youth. He knew what he was talking about because he started his career as a member of the African National Congress Youth League when he was still in his 20s. 

Later on, he understood that highlighting the oppression of young people was a powerful way to explain why things must change. There is a universal appeal to the conviction that youth deserve a chance. 

I agree with Mandela about young people, and that is one reason I am optimistic about the future of this continent. Demographically, Africa is the world’s youngest continent. And its youth can be the source of a special dynamism. 

In the next 35 years, two billion babies will be born in Africa. By 2050, 40 percent of the entire world’s children will live on this continent. 

Economists talk about a demographic dividend. When you have more people of working age and fewer dependents for them to take care of, you can generate phenomenal economic growth. Rapid economic growth in East Asia in the 1970s and 1980s was partly driven by the large number of young people moving into their workforce. 

But, for me, the most important thing about young people is the way their minds work. Young people are better than old people at driving innovation because they’re not locked in by the limits of the past. 

When I started Microsoft at the age of 19, computer science was a young field. We didn’t feel beholden to old notions about what computers could or should do. We dreamed about the next big thing and we scoured the world around us for the ideas and tools that would help us create it. 

But it wasn’t just Microsoft. Steve Jobs was 21 when he started Apple. Mark Zuckerberg was only 19 when he started Facebook. 

The African entrepreneurs driving startup booms in the Silicon Savannahs from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Lagos and Nairobi are just as young in chronological age, but also in their outlook. The thousands of businesses they’re creating are already changing daily life across the continent. 

In a few days, I’ll be meeting with some of these young innovators. People like the 21-year-old who founded Kenya’s first software coding school to provide other young people with computer programming skills.

And like the 23-year-old social entrepreneur here in South Africa who manufactures school bags from recycled plastic shopping bags. Besides being highly visible to protect children as they’re walking to school, these school bags sport a small solar panel that charges a lantern during the journey to and from school, providing illumination so students can study at home.   

The full returns will come if we can multiply this talent for innovation by the whole of Africa’s growing youth population. That depends on whether Africa’s young people -- all of Africa’s young people -- are given the opportunity to thrive. 

Nelson Mandela said, “Poverty is not natural, it is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”

We are the human beings that must take action. And we have to decide now because this unique moment won’t last. We must clear away the obstacles that are standing in young people’s way so that they can seize all of their potential. 

If young people are sick and malnourished, their bodies and brains will never fully develop. If they are not educated well, their minds will lie dormant. If they do not have access to economic opportunities, they will not be able to achieve their goals. 

But if we invest in the right things, if we make sure the basic needs of Africa’s young people are taken care of, then they will have the physical, cognitive, and emotional resources they need to change the future. Life on this continent will improve faster than it ever has. And the inequities that have kept people apart will be erased by broad-based progress that is the very meaning of the words 'Living Together'.

When Melinda and I started our foundation 15 years ago, we asked ourselves: What are the areas of greatest impact? It was clear to us that investing in health was high on the list. When people aren’t healthy, they can’t turn their attention to other priorities. But when health improves, life improves by every measure. 

Over the last 15 years, our foundation has invested more than US$9 billion in Africa. And we are committed to keep on investing to help Africa.

In the next five years, we will invest another US$5 billion.

Some of this money has gone into discovering and developing new and better vaccines and drugs to help prevent infectious disease. We’ve also invested in global partnerships that work closely with countries across the continent to get these solutions to the people who need them most.
 
We’ve been fortunate to work with amazing partners, and together we’ve seen incredible progress.
 
For example, the entire continent of Africa has been polio free for two years, which puts us within reach of wiping polio out from the face of the earth forever.
 
The newest vaccines that protect children from two of the most devastating diseases -- pneumonia and diarrhoea -- are reaching children across Africa at the same time they’re available for children in wealthier countries.
 
Countries that invest in strong, community-based primary healthcare systems -- including Malawi, Ethiopia, and Rwanda -- are making great progress reducing child mortality.
 
Malaria infections and deaths are down significantly thanks to better treatment and prevention tools. 

And efforts like the Ouagadougou Partnership in West Africa are helping millions of women get access to contraceptives, which make it easier for them to care for their families. 

HIV/AIDS is another area where there’s been good progress. Though it’s a complicated story, and there are still big challenges ahead. 

In a few days, I’ll be speaking at the International AIDS Conference in Durban. When the global AIDS community last met there in 2000, only a few thousand Africans were receiving antiretroviral drugs. Today, more than 12 million Africans are on treatment, more than a quarter of them living here in South Africa.
   
So this is a huge achievement, and millions of lives have been saved. But the rate of new infections remains high. In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 2,000 young people under the age of 24 are infected every single day. The number of young people dying from HIV has increased fourfold since 1990. 

We need to get people to get diagnosed, we need people to seek treatment, and people who are on treatment need to be fully adherent. 

Along with HIV, we have high rates of tuberculosis, including here in South Africa where TB/HIV co-infection continues to wage a devastating toll.
 
So we need more creative ways to make testing and treatment accessible and easier to use.
 
We need to get much more out of existing prevention methods like condoms, voluntary medical male circumcision, and oral anti-HIV medicine.
 
And we’re going to have to invent new and better preventative solutions like medicines you only have to take once a month or an effective vaccine. 

If we don’t act both on today’s treatment and create these tools, the hard-earned gains made against HIV in sub-Saharan Africa over the last 15 years could actually be reversed. Because of the population growth, just doing what we are today is not enough. We need to do more. 

Nutrition is another critical area of focus for Africa. Nearly one-third of the continent’s children suffer from malnutrition that stunts their growth and robs them of their physical and cognitive potential. Millions more suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. These are impacts that last a lifetime and impact whole generations of African youth. 

African Development Bank President, Akin Adesina, put it best when he said recently that the greatest contributor to Africa’s economic growth is not physical infrastructure, but gray matter infrastructure, people’s brainpower. The best way to build that infrastructure includes proper nutrition. 

Without eliminating malnutrition, we won’t get the great potential that’s there. 

We know that when mothers and infants get good nutrition, that breast feeding is a key part of that. We know that certain vitamins and minerals are essential for children. 

We have a number of ways to intervene to help nutrition, things like fortified cooking oil, sugar fortified with vitamin A, and sugar and flour enriched with iron, zinc, and vitamin B.  

One of the most exciting advances is the breeding of crops so they are naturally more nutritious. For example, when adolescents eat high-iron pearl millet, their likelihood of iron deficiency is reduced six-fold. And just half a cup of biofortified orange sweet potato is all it takes to meet a child’s daily vitamin A needs. 

The toll of micronutrient deficiency is huge, but the costs of fighting it are not. 

Recent estimates done in Nigeria and Uganda indicate that every dollar invested to reduce stunting returns US$17 in greater earning capacity in the workplace. 

When children’s bodies and brains are healthy, the next step is an education that helps them develop the knowledge and skills to become productive contributors to society. 

Improving education is hard work. I’ve learned this first hand through our foundation’s efforts to create better learning outcomes for primary, secondary, and university students in the United States. 

But this hard work is incredibly important. A good education is the best lever we have for giving every young person a chance to make the most of their lives.

In Africa, as in the United States, we need new thinking and new educational tools to make sure that a high-quality education is available to every child. 

In Uganda, young innovators at the NGO [non-governmental organisation] called Educate! are helping high schools prepare young people for the workplace by teaching students how to start their own business. 

And with the high level of mobile phone penetration in Africa, technology using mobile phones to connect to the Internet have the potential to help students build foundational skills while giving teachers better feedback and support.
 
Globally, the educational technology sector is innovating and growing rapidly and it’s exciting to see new models and tools emerging to meet the needs of educators and students who are not connected to current systems. 

At the university level, we need not only to broaden access, we have to also ensure that we have high-quality public universities that will launch the next generation of scientists, entrepreneurs, educators, and government leaders. 

South Africa is blessed with some of the best universities in Africa, like the one we’re at today. 

For our foundation, we partner with these universities to do our work in health and agricultural research. Maintaining the quality of this country’s higher-education system, while expanding access to more students will not be easy, but it is critical to South Africa’s future. 

Other countries in the region will do well to follow South Africa’s example and provide the highest-level university education to the largest number of qualified students. 

Healthy, educated young people are eager to make their way in the world.  But Africa’s youth must have economic opportunity to channel their energy into progress.
 
Some of those youths will work in agriculture, where still over half of the workforce toils today. 

We need advances to make agriculture far more productive. Today, the seeds that are used are unproductive, the soils are not very good, and so many farmers grow just enough to feed their family.
 
With climate change leading to more severe weather, doing more of the same will not be good enough. 

The key to this is a series of innovation at every step along the way from farm to market. 

First, farmers need better tools to avoid disasters and grow surplus. Things like seeds that can tolerate drought, floods, pests, and disease; affordable fertilisers that have the right mix of nutrients to replenish the soil; and easy-to-administer livestock vaccines that can help prevent flocks and herds from being wiped out. 

Next, farmers need to be connected to a market where they can buy these inputs at a good price, and sell their surplus, and earn a profit that they can invest not only in their family’s basic needs, but also back into the farm. 

This, in turn, will provide employment opportunities both on and off the farm as more prosperous farmers begin to support a range of agribusinesses like seed dealers, trucking companies, and processing plants. 

I recently met with a group of young crop breeders, one from Ethiopia, one from Kenya, one from Nigeria, one from Uganda. I really love talking about the science of plant productivity. And in this case, I was amazed at the expertise all of these scientists brought to their work on cassava, a staple crop that provides more than one-third of the calories in many African diets. 

Some had ways of improving the nutritional content of cassava. Others were breeding a variety that can resist both of the devastating diseases that are threatening to wipe out the cassava crop. 

Our foundation is also working with a young computer scientist from Makerere University who designed a mobile phone app that lets farmers upload a picture of their cassava plants to find out whether it’s infected or not. 

These are examples of the kind of innovators who can drive an agricultural transformation across the continent if they have the support they need. For many decades, agriculture has suffered from dramatic underinvestment. Many governments didn’t see the link between their farmers and economic growth. 

Now, however, this misconception is gone.  And through the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme, countries have a framework for transforming agriculture. The investment needs to follow so that young Africans have the means to create the thriving agriculture they envision. 

With Africa’s farms as a base, the next step in economic growth is to promote job creation in other sectors. Doing this will require investment in infrastructure including energy. 

Seven in 10 Africans lack access to power, which makes it harder to do everything. Harder to get healthcare in a dark clinic. Harder to learn in school when it’s boiling hot. Harder to be productive when you can’t use labour-saving machinery. 

Ultimately, a shortage of power, like many African countries -- including South Africa -- have experienced, is also a drag on economic growth. 

Businesses will not invest fully in places where they can’t operate efficiently. 

A recent report projected that 500 million Africans won’t have electricity even in 2040. We need to change that. 

What Africa needs is what the whole world needs: An energy advance that provides cheap, clean energy for everyone. 

I’ve spent a lot of my time in the last two years working on this issue because it’s such an important advance. I’m involved with a group of business people who are collaborating with governments to not only increase energy R&D, but also to vastly increase the private investment in this area. 

I get angry when I see that Africa is suffering the worst effects of climate change, although Africans had almost nothing to do with causing this. 

The rich countries need to follow through on their commitment to double their energy R&D budgets so that we get the breakthroughs that are applicable globally, and we need to do that urgently. 

Africa needs power now. And so there are many pragmatic steps we need to take even in advance of these new inventions. 

In parts of Africa, there’s hydro and geothermal sources which are both reliable and renewable that can be exploited. There’s been a lot of work on small-scale grids and the use if micro solar. This approach can provide individuals with electricity for basic purposes, but we also need large-scale power including well-managed electrical grids. 

It means organising the power system so that it’s economic, so that the electronic bills are paid for, and so that the network is reliable 100 percent of the time. 

Once we get economic viability for these utilities, then it bootstraps the economy. It allows investments that are job creating. 

So there are many challenges that I’ve laid out here: Challenges in health, education, agricultural productivity, energy, and creating enough job opportunities. 

These advances only happen in the context of governments that function well enough to enable them. I applaud initiatives like Mo Ibrahim’s Annual Index of African Governments, which looks objectively at multiple measures of government performance in each country on the continent. 

Citizens in other regions would be well served by this kind of comprehensive effort to spotlight and spread effective governance. 

A lot can be accomplished by focusing on fiscal governance and accountability. Here in South Africa, the government gets strong marks for the budget information it provides to the public. 

The International Budget Partnership, an independent monitoring organisation, also ranks South Africa highly for its oversight of government spending.

In some countries, individual citizens are leading the way. In Nigeria, 30-year-old Oluseun Onigbinde gave up a career in banking years ago to devote himself full time to pulling back the curtain on the Nigerian federal expenditure. 

With savvy use of data and social media, he founded BudgetIT Nigeria, which provides facts and figures the average Nigerian can understand. No doubt, he’s a thorn in the side of some of Nigeria’s elite, but to me he’s an example of what one person can do to make a difference. 

Governments have an opportunity not only to learn from what’s been done in the past, but to do things in new ways. One of the exciting prospects is the role they can play in accelerating use of digital technology to leapfrog traditional models and costly infrastructure associated with banking and delivery of government services. 

By using mobile phones, tens of millions of people are already storing money digitally and using their phones to make purchases as if they were debit cards. 

A good example of this is M-PESA in Kenya. These services don’t just give people a better way to move money around, they give people a place to save cash to fund a startup of a micro enterprise or pay a child’s school fee. They create informal insurance networks of friends and families who can help with unexpected shocks. And they increase the profitability of small businesses by lowering transaction costs, making it easy to order products and supplies, and having greater security of financial assets. 

A digital financial connection can also help governments deliver services more efficiently. Studies from India show the government able to save tens of billions a year by connecting households to a digital payment system and automating all government payments. 

The early evidence suggests that similar programmes in Africa can also yield substantial benefits. For example, recent research in Uganda showed that providing people with digital cash transfers rather than direct food subsidies not only saved the cost of delivery, it also improved nutrition because recipients used the money to purchase a greater diversity of foods and to space out meals as needed. 

Governments can accelerate this digital transformation by implementing policies that encourage commercial investment, innovation, and healthy competition. 

Countries like Kenya, Tanzania, and Nigeria are already investing in the building blocks of this new digital financial platform. And I believe they’ll see substantial positive returns. 

If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s this: Africa can achieve the future it aspires to.

That future depends on the people of Africa working together across economic and social strata and across national borders to lay a foundation so that Africa’s young people have the opportunities they deserve. 

Recently, I had a meeting with students at Addis Ababa University. I started asking them the kinds of questions you would ask college students in the United States like, “What do you want to do after you graduate? What fields are you thinking of going into?”

They looked at me like I was kind of crazy for asking those questions. Each of them had a plan for their future. They felt their parents had sacrificed for decades so they could go to this university. They weren’t weighing their options, they had come to the university to get specific training, and they were eager to take that training and use it to make their country more prosperous. 

They saw themselves as part of a large community with great needs. And they were going to dedicate themselves to serving that community by meeting those needs. 

I see that sense of purpose when I come to Africa, and especially when I talk to young Africans. I think it’s a unique asset that people see the need to change and that they want to give back. 

The students here believe not only in themselves, they also believe in their countries and the future of the continent. Our priority is to make sure they have the opportunity to turn those beliefs into action because young people with this sense of purpose can make the difference between stagnation and faster progress. 

Nelson Mandela said, “Young people are capable, when aroused, of bringing down the towers of oppression and raising the banners of freedom.”  But our duty is not merely to arouse, our duty is to invest in these young people, to put in place the basic building blocks so they can build the future. 

And our duty is to do it now because the innovations of tomorrow depend on the opportunities available to children today. 

I’m sure it’s clear to everyone that these are big and complicated challenges. But it’s just as clear that people with bravery, energy, intellect, passion, and stamina can face big, complicated challenges and overcome them. 

There is so much more work to be done to create a future in which we can all live together, but there are also so many people who are eager to get to work. 

Let’s do everything within our power right now to help build the future that Nelson Mandela dreamed of and the future that we will achieve together. 

Thank you.

For more about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, refer to www.gatesfoundation.org.

In South Africa, violence has a long history. The legacy of slavery, colonial conquest and resistance is still with us. Criminality festers amid inequality, corruption and an underperforming state. The violence impacts our youth and scars them for life. Or it takes their lives. In 2013, non-natural deaths accounted for more than a third of all deaths of people between the ages of 15 and 29 years.

One of the places this violence occurs is in schools. These are supposed to be safe spaces where young minds can wander between geography and history, get lost in literature, and find the concentration to master mathematical concepts. But many are dangerous, which is why Equal Education’s campaign for safer schools is important.

As I understand it the campaign began with a social audit of 244 Western Cape schools, which found that only half of schools have a fence that can protect learners and just 47 percent employ a security guard. It found that corporal punishment occurs in 83 percent of schools and that learners have experienced or witnessed a violent event at 89 percent of schools. Although the Western Cape ranks among the worst of provinces when it comes to school violence, this work has national relevance.

I was moved to write in support of this campaign while on Twitter, as I watched what I thought was a rather unfair attack on EE by Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille. Her primary criticism of EE is that, in her view, it resorts to ‘grandstanding’ and ‘has done nothing about the core problems in education’. This is called playing the man and not the ball. The Premier refused to engage about what her government could do about school safety.

According to Premier Zille the ‘biggest challenges facing education’ are ‘unaccountable and absent SADTU (South African Democratic Teachers’ Union) educators’ and ‘absent fathers’. Later she said she would only “regain respect for EE when they campaign for teachers and pupils to be present, punctual and prepared.”

Her allegations run totally contrary to my personal experience of interacting with EE members and leaders, attending their offices and campaigns, and reading their materials.

A few years ago I was invited by EE to join the launch of its ‘No To Late-Coming Campaign’. Early in the morning I stood with equalisers outside the gates of their schools handing out pamphlets which explained how much time is lost in classrooms due to late-coming and absenteeism. The campaign was by pupils for pupils, but it was obvious that teachers felt the heat too. This campaign has been repeated and yet it is exactly what Zille accuses EE of not doing.

As general secretary of COSATU, I addressed EE’s national congress in 2012. I came under pressure from certain leaders in SADTU not to get too close. In fact my working relationship with civil society, of which EE is a major constituent, was one of the reasons I was ousted unconstitutionally from COSATU.

EE has always been clear that it supports the right of teachers to unionise and bargain collectively. During teacher strikes it has strongly supported wage demands. It has refused to swallow the idea that teachers are solely to blame for our education crisis, because EE has seen the conditions teachers work under. In many schools there is a positive relationship between EE learners and SADTU teachers, with EE parents serving on school governing bodies.

Why did some comrades in SADTU’s leadership resist my support for EE? Because the union crosses swords with EE in dozens of schools, where equaliser organizing confronts underprepared teachers, principals using corporal punishment, and weak school administration and leadership. This is the primary terrain where meaningful contestation with the bad features of SADTU needs to happen, and EE is the movement taking up the challenge.

EE was consistent in calling for the release of the so-called ‘Jobs For Cash’ report into the buying and selling of principal posts, the publication of which was strongly resisted by SADTU. EE went so far as to say: “The notion that we are just dealing with bad apples is not credible -- this is a systemic rot in which SADTU must accept its share of responsibility.”

The most disturbing was Premier Zille blaming ‘absent fathers’ and ‘delinquent youngsters’ for the situation in our schools. It is absolutely true that we have far too many absent fathers, some who must be taken to task. But social problems occur within social conditions, which are deeply marked by race and class oppression. Hundreds of thousands of black fathers are absent because they are away from home working in mines, factories and on farms. This stems from a migrant labour system into which African people were forced by expropriation of our land and punitive taxes.

Soon after the Marikana massacre, former president Kgalema Motlanthe pleaded for the abolition of the migrant labour system, calling it an underlying social determinant in which “workers were separated from their families and loved ones for 12 months at a time and only went home at the end of the year for a week or two.” He said the migrant labour system had dire consequences for women and children. One of the consequences he pointed to was broken families. We can’t speak about ‘absent fathers’ without speaking about migrant labour and structural injustice. I encourage the Premier to speak to these issues.

In any case, Zille has rightly criticised the Eastern Cape government for its failing education system. Consistency requires accepting responsibility in the Western Cape.

I remember visiting the EE head office in Khayelitsha. There I saw a new generation of activists building community, conducting research, and carrying forward non-racialism and a tradition of militant struggle. They seemed to approach their tasks with the utmost seriousness. The label of grandstanders doesn’t stick.

Following them over the past eight years I have noticed how they have avoided litigation and unnecessary clashes when possible, keeping their eye on the ball. The leaders of EE are not too well known. It is the organisation itself that is known in the townships and villages of South Africa. It has been built without personality cults. In fact it is an example of what can be achieved.

Safer schools are non-negotiable. Let’s reckon with what EE’s members are saying and mobilise a collective effort.

  • Zwelinzima Vavi is the former General Secretary of COSATU and Convener of independent and democratic unions.

The National Development Plan (NDP): Vision 2030 set a target of training 100 000 PhD students by 2030. South Africa’s annual output stood at a mere 1 800 in 2014. In August 2015, the Department of Higher Education in South Africa introduced the Staffing SA Universities Framework (SSAUF), which aims to train a new generation of younger academics, and to address the current shortage of Black academics, specifically Black female academics. The Department outlined its goal of increasing the PhD output in South Africa to 7000 PhDs annually by 2019.

The 2010 ASSAf report on the state of the PhD in South Africa, however, has revealed systemic problems at universities, which create blockages to increased PhD output. These problems include inadequate support for postgraduate students and insufficient formal training for supervisors.

In response, 32-year-old, Dr Layla Cassim, designed and developed the Postgraduate Toolkit. The Toolkit is in a form of a CD and retails at R500, excluding VAT only. The toolkit is endorsed by the renowned social entrepreneur, Wendy Luhabe, and was first launched in 2011, with the second edition launched in 2015.

The reality is that many students cannot afford this fee. It is for this reason that Cassim, through the Layla Cassim ERS Consultants and The Renaissance Network, is hosting a series of fundraising dinner events throughout the country. These events will be anchored on the Postgraduate Capacitation Campaign (PCC), launched in May 2016.

This innovative Toolkit covers research processes such as poster and oral presentations on the research project; project management principles in research; the student-supervisor-university-workplace relationship and the role of the supervisor as a mentor; from how to write a research proposal; how to apply for funding; key concepts in research design and methodology; how to write a thesis; publishing an academic paper; etc.

So far, over 2 000 students in South Africa and internationally - mainly in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region - have used the Toolkit as a resource to aid in their studies at all three higher education levels - honours, masters and doctoral levels.

The Toolkit will appeal to long distance students who are unable to connect quickly or access university support services. Visually impaired students will find it particularly useful as it is available in electronic format.

It is Cassim’s dream to make the Toolkit available to all postgraduate students to enhance their experience while studying towards their qualifications. Through her PCC, launched in May 2016, Cassim will raise funds by hosting various events in different parts of the country, as well as making the CD available to students through individual and corporate/institutional financial donations.

Click here to access further information on the PCC, benefits for funders in both public and private sectors, an order form and the credentials of both The Renaissance Network and Layla Cassim ERS Consultants are also available on this link. The first fundraising dinner will be held on 28 July 2016 at the Joburg Theatre. More information is shared on www.laylacassim.co.za.   

The first phase of PCC aims to reach 20 000 postgraduate students nationally. This goal is for the 2016 academic year only.  Funders have the liberty to invest any amount they wish, and also indicate which higher education institutions benefit from their donation of Toolkits.

For further information for Postgraduate Toolkit orders and to book your table for the fundraising dinners, contact Lolo Maphophe, PCC National Marketing Consultant at 082 474 0107 or maphophelolo@telkomsa.net.

Pages

NGO Services

NGO Services