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Author Topic: The advantage of hindsight  (Read 1056 times)

Offline Nolan

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The advantage of hindsight
« on: March 13, 2007, 01:11:20 pm »
Here is a speach I stumbled upon while looking for more info about SA education after an interviewee on 3 Talk last night said SA's education has slipped to position 44 of 44 on the world rankings. It is by Kader Asmal and was given in 1999 :

ADDRESS ON "REVERSING THE BRAIN DRAIN" BY PROF KADER ASMAL, MP, MINISTER OF EDUCATION, AT BREAKFAST CLUB OF SEKUNJALO INVESTMENTS LTD, HELD ON 2 SEPTEMBER 1999 AT THE NEW RESTAURANT, KIRSTENBOSCH GARDENS, CAPE TOWN
Friends from the Sekunjalo Breakfast Club:

It is a great pleasure to be among you here, in this the jewel in the crown of botanical gardens in South Africa. I had a lot to do with Kirstenbosch as Minister of Water Affairs & Forestry. It is a place where water-wise gardening particularly is celebrated, a place which should be supported and enjoyed by all South Africans - and now can, because of our democratic freedom and growing oneness.

Incidentally, since we are in this brand-new restaurant, I should say, as an aside, that I am among those who mourn the passing of the old prefab eating place further up in the Gardens, now closed. But I do feel that those who have planned this new place have managed to hide its modern vastness in a way that is exemplary - and it is encouraging to note that they have not endangered the wetland and wild fig environment, as was feared at one stage.

But to get to the subject on which you would like me concentrate:

There is indeed talk of a "brain drain" from South Africa. Much of it is loose talk, but such a drain undeniably exists. And it must be curbed, through creative means and not compulsion.

Countries the world over suffer brain drains. Britain, for instance, had a serious loss to the USA in the post-war period of economic and currency stringency, particularly in the mid-sixties when British tourists were able to carry only 50 pounds sterling with them when they visited abroad.

In South Africa we desperately need all the skills we have, and we must accept that perhaps too many of our home-grown skills have been exported in recent years.

But, let us not forget that, compared with the massive haemorrhages of talent and skill during the apartheid era, the scale of loss is tiny. In those days, whole communities would emigrate, eg thousands of coloured people from the Cape Flats fleeing group areas and other wickedness. Many of these were highly skilled people, teachers, doctors, dentists, engineers. Their exit was the country's material loss.

Countless numbers of professional people of Asiatic origin, unable to stomach the appalling discrimination which they suffered, and the even far worse discrimination that they knew Africans were suffering, simply uprooted themselves and emigrated as soon as they could - after, or even before, qualifying. I was one of those exiles, and the years I would have given to South African academic life I devoted to devote to Trinity College Dublin. I was not even able to pick up my BA degree from Unisa, such was my hurry to get out. Maybe as Minister of Education I shall get it one day.

In those hard days most Africans could not emigrate in the normal way, because of their economic deprivation and the regimentation under which they lived. Yet many thousands of them simply left, without permission and risking their lives. They found it very hard in the cold, snowy winters of New York, London, Moscow. Some could not take the awfulness of being cut off from their home country, and, like Nat Nakasa, became tragic legends in a national folklore of alienation.

There were departures which were, in fact, the country's gain. A whole army of our youth left the country secretly after the Soweto uprising, but were no loss to South Africa for they contributed hugely to the liberation struggle. They were in the eye of the storm of war. The President of the ANC, Oliver Tambo, escaped the national security dragnet that descended with the declaration of a state of emergency at the end of March 1960 - and himself became the rallying point abroad for final victory.

Many white South Africans, sickened by apartheid or banned or listed by the Government, left in large numbers - some of them, like Dr Raymond Hoffenberg, of the locally-banned Defence and Aid Fund, reached the highest positions in their professions. The white brain drain provided not one but two of the current top law lords in Britain, both lost to the South African bench. The name Zuckerman was a massive contribution from apartheid South Africa to world science. Banned, escaped editor Donald Woods was celebrated in world journalism and beyond.

Almost every sphere of cultural, economic, sporting and political life in countries such as Britain and the United States, and in parts of Africa and Europe, benefited vastly from South African exiles. Indeed, the whole world resounded to the lilting sounds and clicks of South African exile music, from Masekela to Makeba. Our poetry and art flourished on the Left Bank with Breytenbach, cut off because of his marriage of colour. Apartheid shantytowns were built as forms of protest on USA campuses. South Africa House in London and the South Embassy in Washington became centres where exiles dedicated themselves publicly to inevitable victory. The name Hain became synonymous with successful sporting protest, and later political achievement, in Britain. Prominent political figures in Israel, Britain and elsewhere were traceable to the political flight from South Africa.

Those were the real days of the brain drain; the days when South Africa massively lost skills.

Today, the country's economic and financial difficulties have obviously made things tough for some people - and a rather timid response to the real but manageable crime problem facing South Africa has clearly led to a current loss of skills from our shores, mainly among whites. The leafy suburbs of South Africa echo to the whinging refrains of people, if they can afford it, talking about emigrating.

The media, with few exceptions, does not make things easier, by harping on the horror aspect of crime to such an extent that tornado and earthquake headlines announce the rape of an inmate at Valkenberg. However disgraceful, that event is not a banner headline story, and it devalues and trivialises the importance of the real debate on rape that should be engaged. No, I am not saying that the media should suppress news. I am saying that the way it sifts and plays the news can help to drive otherwise useful citizens from our shores without reason, or make them feel a bit more secure. Instead of properly analysing the statistics, which for instance would show that our cities are not the worst in the world for crime, instead of getting behind the reasons for crime and helping constructively in the quest to do something about it, they rely on knee-jerk, superficial responses lavishing splash headlines solely on the blood and the gore.

To touch on a recent debatable editorial decision. Is there really a compelling need to thrust the close-up sight of tragically dead fathers and sons into people's faces at breakfast, no matter what laudable social point is being made? This sort of thing can have the effect of simply exacerbating matters. It further brutalises society. We could just reap the whirlwind of further escalating crime. In the same way, the horririfics of crime seen on our screens can only make attitudes and events more brutal. Let us stop it. Not through censorship, but through healthy public opinion.

So, in this sense, the brain drain - mainly of whites - is artificially driven, not spontaneous.

But let us look at the other side of the coin: the brain drain in reverse under our democracy. A point made publicly by our President some time ago is that we tend to ignore the fact of the skills that have been brought back to South Africa since the change to democracy. You just have to glance at the lists of people engaged in the running of the country, the economy, business, the professions, health, education - you name it - and you will see the extent to which a vast brain drain in reverse has been let loose on the land.

And many of these are people who have been trained most thoroughly in some of the most competitive and talented parts of the world. They have been to the best universities. They have watched, heard or read the best media. They have been steeped in the knowledge and culture of those parts of the world which, for regrettable and even unacceptable historical reasons, are undeniably impressive when it comes to achievement and access to technology and to know-how.

Our President himself gained an enviable education in Britain. He quotes Yeats and Shakespeare with ease. He is as much at home in the chancelleries of the so-called developed world as he is in the humble dignity of the hamlet where he was born in the Eastern Cape or in the hilltop village near Cofimvaba where Chris Hani was born, without running water.

Even the foot soldiers of the liberation struggle found themselves at institutes of learning and schools for strategy in Africa, Asia and Europe which gave them a far wider culture than they would have had if they had stayed at home under apartheid and Bantu education.

Indeed, the real brain drain in those days was right here at home. It was caused by Bantu education, the blighted system seeking to keep blacks as hewers of wood and drawers of water. It caused a massive malfunction in the educational system of the whole country, with lack of confidence and lack of competence over a wide front to this day. We have yet to cope with the consequences.

That is precisely why I have set as one of my key priorities in Education the goal of breaking the back of illiteracy within five short years. Bantu education left countless numbers of people functionally illiterate, and we must attend to that with great urgency. We shall, in all our efforts and programmes at Education, seek to ensure that we keep the skills and the levels of competence that this country has, and then built on them.

We gain no pleasure from seeing fearful whites going to Kent or California. We gain no pleasure from seeing skilled blacks who, somehow, survived the worst of Bantu education, being snapped up by world organisations or corporations crying out for their skills. But, for now, that is the world we live in. We gain no pleasure from seeing industrial and labour disruption, including in our schools, which operates directly against the constitutional right of our children to proper education. That is the world we refuse to live in.

To stem the brain drain, we must educate all our people. We must make people from abroad feel welcome in South Africa, particularly those who have skill, which does not only mean technological, post-industrial skill but includes flair in art, culture, poetry, woodcraft and music. We must make the spouses and partners of all South Africans feel welcome to come and live and work here. We need to play the role, in Africa and the world, of the gentle giant - generous and just to all.

Moreover, we must ensure that the sharp operators of the global market do not come here simply to rip off our country's resources and enrich their shareholders. They must come with programmes for domestic economic growth and capacity-building. They must bring permanent skills in, not take them out.

So, as we survey the ebb and flow of the past ten years, we see that the Soweto youth are back, with many of them helping to run the country in the most senior positions. The coloured families from the Cape Flats have, despite so many settling down so well in countries like Canada, filtered back or at least renewed their links with this land, now free. The liberation struggle exodus has become a largely skilled influx. Those exiled to prison or restriction inside South Africa are, similarly, contributing vastly.

In fact, over the widest possible front, and like few countries this century, there has been a Diaspora in reverse. Without getting in any sense complacent, let us thank all these skilled people for coming back, and let us encourage those who would leave, at least to think a while.

Offline Nolan

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Re: The advantage of hindsight
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2007, 02:10:26 pm »
So, Mr Asmal, it is now 8 years later, time for your job appraisal and bs report :

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There is indeed talk of a "brain drain" from South Africa. Much of it is loose talk
Quote
But, let us not forget that, compared with the massive haemorrhages of talent and skill during the apartheid era, the scale of loss is tiny. In those days, whole communities would emigrate, eg thousands of coloured people from the Cape Flats fleeing group areas and other wickedness.

Let's see now : according to official stats more than a million whites have left post 1994. No stats for other ethnic groups are included. Believe me that is not a tiny amount of people.

Quote
Countless numbers of professional people of Asiatic origin, unable to stomach the appalling discrimination which they suffered, and the even far worse discrimination that they knew Africans were suffering, simply uprooted themselves and emigrated as soon as they could - after, or even before, qualifying. I was one of those exiles, and the years I would have given to South African academic life I devoted to devote to Trinity College Dublin. I was not even able to pick up my BA degree from Unisa, such was my hurry to get out.

In those hard days most Africans could not emigrate in the normal way, because of their economic deprivation and the regimentation under which they lived. Yet many thousands of them simply left, without permission and risking their lives. They found it very hard in the cold, snowy winters of New York, London, Moscow. Some could not take the awfulness of being cut off from their home country, and, like Nat Nakasa, became tragic legends in a national folklore of alienation.

This sounds just like the talk of those leaving SA now, except that it is people of Asiatic, African and European origin says this.

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Almost every sphere of cultural, economic, sporting and political life in countries such as Britain and the United States, and in parts of Africa and Europe, benefited vastly from South African exiles. Indeed, the whole world resounded to the lilting sounds and clicks of South African exile music, from Masekela to Makeba. Our poetry and art flourished on the Left Bank

ditto for that too

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Those were the real days of the brain drain; the days when South Africa massively lost skills.

No, Mr Asmal, you are hopelessly mistaken, the brain drain has just begun and is not going to stop any time soon.

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No, I am not saying that the media should suppress news. I am saying that the way it sifts and plays the news can help to drive otherwise useful citizens from our shores without reason, or make them feel a bit more secure. Instead of properly analysing the statistics, which for instance would show that our cities are not the worst in the world for crime, instead of getting behind the reasons for crime and helping constructively in the quest to do something about it, they rely on knee-jerk, superficial responses lavishing splash headlines solely on the blood and the gore.

You have had to suppress the statistics in a knee-jerk reaction since then so that the true crime statistics and blood and gore doesn't reach the media.

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Is there really a compelling need to thrust the close-up sight of tragically dead fathers and sons into people's faces at breakfast, no matter what laudable social point is being made? This sort of thing can have the effect of simply exacerbating matters. It further brutalises society. We could just reap the whirlwind of further escalating crime. In the same way, the horririfics of crime seen on our screens can only make attitudes and events more brutal. Let us stop it. Not through censorship, but through healthy public opinion.

So, in 1999 you were already passing the buck for the government's incompetence and inability to combat crime, maybe it was because you had got rid of the competent police that were at your disposal and replaced them with fellow criminals?

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So, in this sense, the brain drain - mainly of whites - is artificially driven, not spontaneous.

 :2funny: so our dead friends and family are artificial then, moron, let's see how artificial your friends and family are when they are hacked and tortured to death for an empty wallet  >:(

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But let us look at the other side of the coin: the brain drain in reverse under our democracy. A point made publicly by our President some time ago is that we tend to ignore the fact of the skills that have been brought back to South Africa since the change to democracy. You just have to glance at the lists of people engaged in the running of the country, the economy, business, the professions, health, education - you name it - and you will see the extent to which a vast brain drain in reverse has been let loose on the land.

 :2funny: and what a fine job they are doing in running the country, economy, business, the professions, health, education - you name it  :2funny: I can't believe that the 'colonialist' countries let you guys leave - you were doing such a job there  :2funny:

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That is precisely why I have set as one of my key priorities in Education the goal of breaking the back of illiteracy within five short years. Bantu education left countless numbers of people functionally illiterate, and we must attend to that with great urgency. We shall, in all our efforts and programmes at Education, seek to ensure that we keep the skills and the levels of competence that this country has, and then built on them.

We are now eight years later, isn't it now time for you to apologise to those you promised education when you were actually just lying to them to get their vote? Shouldn't you now be hanging your head in shame that you have not kept the skills and levels of competence that this country HAD so that you could build on them?

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Our President himself gained an enviable education in Britain. He quotes Yeats and Shakespeare with ease. He is as much at home in the chancelleries of the so-called developed world as he is in the humble dignity of the hamlet where he was born in the Eastern Cape or in the hilltop village near Cofimvaba where Chris Hani was born, without running water.

Fat lot his education has helped - he can't even tell Uncle Bob to shut up or uplift those in his hamlet or on the hilltop villages! He can however voice his educated opinion and deny that HIV causes Aids and employ a 'Health Minister', who herself is 'highly educated abroad', to tell the poor people that are dying of Aids that they must eat garlic because you guys need the money to buy yourselves BMW's.

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To stem the brain drain, we must educate all our people. We must make people from abroad feel welcome in South Africa, particularly those who have skill, which does not only mean technological, post-industrial skill but includes flair in art, culture, poetry, woodcraft and music. We must make the spouses and partners of all South Africans feel welcome to come and live and work here. We need to play the role, in Africa and the world, of the gentle giant - generous and just to all.

What happened to this goal of yours, I feel well alienated in SA and am trying hard to get my spouse and child out of here so that the gentle gaint doesn't murder them.

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Moreover, we must ensure that the sharp operators of the global market do not come here simply to rip off our country's resources and enrich their shareholders.

At last, something you did right - there has been little to no global influx into the country. You should rather have been more worried about giving them a return on their investment instead, then they would come and brought their heavy bags of money with them. Your 'esteemed global education' obviously didn't teach you that they don't need us, we need them.

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So, as we survey the ebb and flow of the past ten years, we see that the Soweto youth are back, with many of them helping to run the country in the most senior positions. The coloured families from the Cape Flats have, despite so many settling down so well in countries like Canada, filtered back or at least renewed their links with this land, now free. The liberation struggle exodus has become a largely skilled influx. Those exiled to prison or restriction inside South Africa are, similarly, contributing vastly.

In fact, over the widest possible front, and like few countries this century, there has been a Diaspora in reverse. Without getting in any sense complacent, let us thank all these skilled people for coming back, and let us encourage those who would leave, at least to think a while.

The only contributions I have seen is the literal and physical raping and pilaging of my country, that is not what I call a vast contribution from your 'Diaspora in reverse'.

Mr Asmal, we have taken a while to at least think about it and....YOU'RE FIRED, please hand back the millions you have been given in hand-outs and under-handers, give back the body guards and multi-million rand security around your house, your bullet proof car, and everything else except the clothes on your back......you don't deserve any of it.....you can keep your education.....it is worthless.

SA Going to NZ Advice Forum

Re: The advantage of hindsight
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2007, 02:10:26 pm »