With all the networking I’ve been doing over the past eight months, I’ve got to meet so many interesting people doing exciting things. I’ve been inspired, encouraged and learnt so much about how to improve the way I do things.
The highlight of last week (perhaps my year?) was the opportunity to meet people involved in the AusAID Australia Awards – Africa Programme. Ever heard of that? Well, let me enlighten you, as I was………. This is my short version, however, you can visit www.adsafrica.com.au or http://www.ausaid.gov.au/australia-awards if you want more information.
The Australian government, through its Agency for International Development (AID), has been working very hard and investing millions in its efforts towards achieving the UN’s Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) of eliminating poverty and hunger, improving health, gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability, as well as creating global partnerships. It has shown its commitment by giving assistance in these areas to over 145 developing countries. Examples include delivery of: sanitation and clean water supply programmes in African countries like Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa; measles and polio immunization programmes in Papua New Guinea; building a bridge across the Mekong River giving marginalized people in East Asia more mobility and accessibility to economic opportunities.
AusAID works with governments of developing countries to improve the way they deliver social, economic and community services. Through partnerships and policy dialogues with specific organisations, clinics and schools are built, advice and training is given; management systems are put in place – all with a view to improving crucial services and empowering people.
Enter the Australia Awards… The Australian government provides funds for educational and training opportunities for key people who take up scholarships in Australia where they study and develop skills that empower them to contribute to capacity and skills building and leadership on their return to their home countries. In this way these awardees, with potential to be future leaders, change-makers and advocates for a better life – socially and economically, promote the development and improvement in the quality of health, educational, social and civic services and make a difference to their communities and their countries.
There is a message in this: If the Australian government can implement a development education and training initiative in Africa, surely the South Africa government can too? Let’s follow their lead.
As communities explode over lack of services delivery and as over 20,000 South African matriculants prepare to enter the working world, it behoves leaders in business, education and civic organisations to get into gear on urgent dialogue, action and proactive partnerships to speed up reform of skills development and training programmes to increase job creation, reduce poverty, improve service delivery, energise our economy and develop good citizens.