African Renaissance Festival 15-16 August 2019



News Feeds


African Renaissance News

Back to overview


Minenhle Mbandlwa - Lessons From The Land Of The Rising Sun

Not a single person returns to their home country the same as they left. In this article I would like to share some of the amazing lessons I have brought back home from Japan. When I first travelled to Japan I was very curious about their miraculous development and how South Africa can emulate the Japanese developmental model.

One of the lessons from Japan is how they developed during the Meiji era and after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. During the Meiji era, the Japanese under a slogan, "western knowledge Japanese spirit" started sending scholars to the west to acquire knowledge and implement it to meet Japanese needs. This tells you the important role of foreign education for a developmental purpose. In this
period, the Japanese economy started to outpace that of the west. This can be credited to the Japanese obsession with continuous improvement (Kaizen) and creating an economy that put human needs first.

Given South Africa's past, I was also interested in how the Japanese dealt with the effects of the devastating war, which left two cities in ashes. After vising Hiroshima, I got the feeling that in South Africa there is big gap between government interventions to heal wounds of apartheid and what the victims and perpetrators need. Hence, it is important to introduce subjects of apartheid and colonialism in South African
schools, drawing lessons from Japan and Germany. This is an important lesson for South Africa to undertake to avoid continuing racial conflict.

As a public policy scholar whose interest is in the developmental agenda, Japanese education and local economic development has been the highlight of my two-year training. The Japanese experience made it clear for me that the type of education that South Africa has is one the reasons that leads to high youth unemployment, poverty and inequality. Investment in good quality education leads to the prosperity of any nation. The evidence from the Asian Tigers and other developed nations shows that good and quality education will produce individuals that are fit for developmental purposes and result in improved standards of living.

The South African education needs radical change in basic and tertiary level to produce individuals that can convert their skills into business or who are at least employable in existing businesses.

Because of the mentioned economic pitfalls, I am also unemployed. Luckily for me, since I was able to correctly diagnose the economic challenges, I decided to invest in poultry and piggery farming when I was still in Japan.

The business has been growing ever since and we have recently started processing and packaging fresh chickens. However, because of a lack of capital one is unable to meet all business demands.

The Japanese educational experience has given me a new meaning to education and the economy. It is impressive how educational outcome meets their economic demands. This is something we need to stress
in South Africa and try to align education and the economy and place an emphasis on a strong entrepreneurial drive to create job opportunities for young people.

Under the slogan 'Japanese knowledge South African spirit' it is possible to emulate the Japanese miracle.

 Minenhle Mbandlwa - Lessons From The Land Of The Rising Sun.JPG

Back to overview