14 Sep You are not going to believe this…
So I am driving home from my son’s play. He was playing Tom Sawyer. He nailed it, might I add! My voice was hoarse from shouting who’s your daddy to him, a ritual we share every time he does good! He responds at the top of his voice; “you are daddy!”
Anyways… so on my way home I am listening to the radio and this professor comes on. Murray Leibbrandt is a Professor in the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town and the Director of the Southern Africa Labour and Development. Prof Murry says they have been conducting research to see if each new generation is better off than its predecessor. Basically they study if kids are better off than their parents. According to the prof there is overwhelming evidence that is the case. Kids today are more educated than they parents are and are likely to move up higher in the labor force than they parents.
I can attest to this, my son had two pages of lines that he had to remember for his play and he is in grade 3! He is currently writing SIAT exams and I am ashamed to say don’t know most of the answers. I have to check the memorandum for the answers.
So education wise there is definitely an improvement and this is not just in middle class South Africa. This improvement is also happening in rural areas. We can debate the quality of the education but what is certain is that almost all kids in South Africa have had a minimum of 10 years of schooling. Whilst this progress is great, it is from from a low base. My mother highest qualification is a standard 7. It’s amazing when you note what she has went on to achieve with just a standard 7.
Interestingly, the more educated you are, the more you value education. My mother valued education to the point she sacrificed everything so that I could get a good education. Can you imagine had she had a matric?! I would be an astronaut today.
The reverse of this though is shocking! The Prof went on to say, if you are born into a poor community you are well…fucked! The F bomb is mine but the sentiment is the same. The research showed that if you born poor you are almost most guaranteed to remain poor despite the improvement in your education. This is because the education you are likely to get, whilst it is better than your parent’s but it’s still comparatively poorer than let’s say my son’s private school education. The prof went on to say it’s also not education alone that stalls one’s economic growth.
When you grow up in a poor community those around you are likely to be unemployed. So even when you have a matric you know no one who can let you know of job opportunities. You basically don’t have contacts. My son on the other hand can work at my restaurants to get job experience and pocket money. A Sipho or a Lebo may not have the same privilege in poor community. When your child gets their degree in whatever field, you and I know someone who can do us a favor and employ them even if they don’t pay them. Mine and your child can stay at home whilst working, we are likely to have a run around car that they can use to get to work.
Sipho and Lebo however can’t afford to work for free as they have to pay transportation to get to work which is half their salary. They are likely paying off fees as well as looking after siblings (black tax).
The reason why the Gini coefficient is so high in SA is because if you are middle income or higher; your growth and income is exponential. The reverse is applicable if you poor. This leads to supper rich or supper poor!
How do we solve this?!
I have no F-ing clue! Everything I would say is academic and self posturing. It’s just easier to look the other way and be grateful for my state of wellbeing.
The problem is that putting one’s head in the sand does not protect one’s ass! They say that the unemployed are a ticking time bomb, I am saying the time on the bomb’s timer is 0:00. Our asses are in the line of fire.
When you consider the stats below you quickly understand that this is a nuclear bomb that’s already detonated, we are just now starting to see the fallout.
More than half of SA’s population is living in poverty, data from Statistics South Africa revealed. According to the Poverty Trends Report for 2006 to 2015, 30.4 million people (55.5% of the population) is living in poverty. This is up from the 53.2% or 27.3 million people reported in 2011.