Poor education hurting SA’s Internet industry: Naspers CEO

Naspers CEO Koos Bekker has warned that South Africa’s poor education system is hurting Internet developments and investments in the country by not developing enough engineers to drive the country forward.

Speaking to Talk Radio 702’s Bruce Whitfield, Bekker said that most of Naspers’ investments in future will go into Internet related activities like eCommerce, pay TV in East and West Africa and projects in developing markets.

Naspers will not be investing heavily in South Africa, and the reason is two-fold:

  • South Africa’s economic growth is slower than most countries in Africa; and
  • Internet developments are very dependent on engineers, which South Africa is lacking.

“To get an engineer you need a kid who is enthused about mathematics, and is prepared to study engineering at university,” said Bekker.

“Regrettably our education system is so poor it simply does not yield the mathematics geniuses we need to go to university to become engineers.”

Consequently, said Bekker, South Africa is falling behind countries like India and China where engineering professionals are prized.

The Naspers CEO said that the education system is not only poor at the worst public school level, but also poor at the top private schools like Bishops and Michaelhouse.

“[Our education] is simply not up to the best standards elsewhere in the world, and parents will realise that unless you give kids a really good starting point when they get to university they are behind,” said Bekker.

“The world is becoming globalised – so the question is not whether you can compete against Johnny across the road. The question is whether you can compete with a kid in Bangalore whose mother is driving him to special mathematics classes on a Saturday morning”

Bekker said that South Africa is lacking some of the sharpness which we are seeing in comparable markets.

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Poor education hurting SA’s Internet industry: Naspers CEO