Now is the time for young South Africans to embrace global citizenship

As we stand on the eve of a new dawn for South Africa, Greg Reis, Exec Chair of BSG, delivered a lecture on Global Citizenship to the young leaders and future IT business professionals of the University of Cape Town Information Systems Honours class.


What does it mean to be a Global Citizen? Simply, the understanding that you are an important part of an emerging world community where individual actions can proactively contribute to building and developing South Africa, Africa, humanity and society as a whole.

“Now is the time for all of us to lend a hand. Now is the time for each of us to say, ‘South Africa, send me’. Now is the time where we should honour the memory of Nelson Mandela to build a new, better South Africa for all.” – President Cyril Ramaphosa

Reis opened the discussion with the above quote from President Cyril Ramaphosa whose appointment has ignited a new optimism among South Africans.

Reis explains that President Ramaphosa’s quote is not used due to political motives, as that is a very personal thing to each one of us.

“It is rather for the strength of his message from a social perspective. It calls upon each one of us to ‘lend a hand’. To not stand on the side-lines, but to get involved. To help find solutions to the challenges and opportunities we have before us in our country.”

In this social and economic climate that is ripe for change, Reis poses a question to our youth “What can we each do to make the world a better place and how can you, personally, impact the issues facing South Africa?”.

Access to education

2.4% of all school starters in South Africa get the opportunity to start an Honours degree. Of these, only 0.6% start Honours degrees in STEM-based fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). If you have the opportunity to go to university and get an Honours degree, you have been provided an opportunity that 97.6% of your peers do not have.

A privileged start in life that brings with it the understanding that you are in the position to make a difference in the lives of others.

What happens to a million South African school starters?

  • Start Grade 2 1,000,000 100%
  • Wrote Matric 550,000 55%
  • University Entry 112,00011%
  • Undergraduate 67,000 7%
  • Honours 24,000 2.4%
  • STEM Honours 6,000 0.6%

South Africa has a growing need for STEM professionals to develop our emerging information economy and equip us with the skills to compete in the global information age. BSG is a proactive supporter of LEAP Science and Maths Schools.

LEAP provides STEM-focused education to students from disadvantaged backgrounds around South Africa with the help of passionately invested corporates and members of civil society. In 2017, the LEAP matric pass rate was 94%, outperforming the National Average matric pass rate of 75% by 19 percentage points.

The positive impact and success achieved when people make a concerted, focused effort to make a difference cannot be underestimated. LEAP is an example that with focus and effort from you as an individual, civil society and corporate South Africa our society can change.

Productivity and economic growth

In the 2017 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report South Africa is placed 47th. Growth is important to South Africa’s economy, creating jobs and opportunities for our people to earn and upskill.

There are several things young South Africans can do now to contribute to growth says Reis. “Concentrate, work hard and get the best possible education, so you can add optimal value when you get into the market and can start to positively impact SA’s growth and productivity. Help others be better educated, STEM based education a key positive indicator to future growth.”

Looking towards the future of South Africa, if we think about our new President asking that we all ‘lend a hand’, part of that is staying put and being present in South Africa. We can help by leading South African organisations to solve their biggest challenges and leverage their greatest opportunities.

Poverty and our environment

Well-fed people create stable communities, perform better in school and take advantage of the opportunities to end extreme poverty. The world has more than enough food to feed everyone, it’s time to make sure everyone gets enough to thrive.

A healthy planet takes care of its people. Healthy people take care of the planet. Protecting the earth promotes the people who live on it. Improving the environment gives people the opportunity to survive and thrive in a world free of extreme poverty.

Reis encourages the youth of South Africa to cultivate the habit of giving back.

“Practice random acts of kindness, gratitude, do for others, ubuntu or as our new President said, ‘lend a hand’. Be a proactive force for positive change. Articulate your own purpose in the context of being a Global Citizen and act. The future of our beautiful complicated country is in your hands.”

Sources: BSG
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and man in charge at Good Things Guy. Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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