The runway to South Africa’s success is an innovative and inclusive society, but too many people remain excluded from fully participating. How can we build this runway? We see three important opportunities:
Opportunity 1: State funding sustains many civil society organisations, but dampens their role as agents of change. Reigniting the creativity of civil society could generate new solutions.
Opportunity 2: We need to remove the systemic chokes that prevent groups of people from participating in our economy and society.
Opportunity 3: We need to create unlikely networks across class, race, business, economic and public sectors that can inspire fresh thinking and positive change, as well as spark innovation.
Children and young people hold the power to change our country. They are the source of human capital, which drives economic growth and development, but the flight gates remain closed to half of them. These gates must be opened to all. We can predict which children will flourish and get to fly. They are those who pass through two gateways. The first is Gate 1: if they are ‘on track’ by Grade 4, they tend to stay on track and complete schooling. The second is Gate 2: if they get a first decent job soon after completing school, they are likely to remain employed for life.
We have identified the following opportunities to keep children on track by Grade 4:
Opportunity 4: Early childhood development is the most powerful investment in human capital that a country can make. We need to give every child the benefit of early childhood development.
Opportunity 5: We need to stop nutritional stunting. Zero-stunting would mean that one million more young children are able to thrive each year.
Opportunity 6: Making sure that all children are ready to read before they go to school will give them the foundation for learning.
Opportunity 7: The presence of love, and caring adults, can help children thrive in spite of adversity. We need to build simple, loving connections for every child.
We can help young people towards their first decent job by seizing the following opportunities:
Opportunity 8: New types of school management can give children in the poorest and worst performing schools the same opportunity as any child in the best public schools. We need to place failing schools under new management.
Opportunity 9: The divisions in South Africa mean hidden work opportunities from many young people. We need to establish and expand initiatives that connect young people to opportunity.
Opportunity 10: When young people have a grip on some opportunity, we must ensure that they never let go. This means removing the obstacles that cause them to fail – and opening new doors for them.