For the past few months the South African media has been voicing concerns regarding the skills crisis facing the country. They ask why South Africa, with its now open borders, is not yet prospering as part of the global economy when others — including Taiwan, Singapore and the United States — are actively pursuing the acquisition of skilled staff.
In this article, Kader Asmal and Michael Kahn describe various factors that critics of government policy overlook. For example, they say, there is a significant inflow of skilled individuals from the rest of Africa, which holds promise both for their countries of origin and for South Africa. Additionally, a huge intellectual and leadership resource — in the form of previously excluded black men and women — is being ignored by many of those concerned with the brain drain.
Finally, they point out that over the past few years there has been a slow but steady increase in the number of African school leavers with qualifications in maths and physical science. The authors argue that the real bottleneck to the development of skills is not the minutiae of immigration law, but the need to improve education, especially in science and maths teaching.