Ed­u­ca­tion is the way out of poverty

Finweek English Edition - - INSIDE -

We all know that South Africa’s school ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is in a shambles. Does this mat­ter, how­ever, if an over­whelm­ing 81% be­lieve that school does a bad job of pre­par­ing learn­ers for the real world and the work­place? Ac­tu­ally, ed­u­ca­tion is still the way out of poverty and here is liv­ing proof.


The As­so­ci­a­tion of MBAs (AMBA) re­cently chose Ole­bo­geng Glad Di­betso, the top MBA stu­dent at Gor­don In­sti­tute of Busi­ness Sci­ence (Gibs) for 2012, as its global win­ner for the AMBA/In­de­pen­dent MBA Stu­dent of the Year Award 2013. This is a re­mark­able ac­com­plish­ment, given t hat t hat t here a r e roughly 40 000 grad­u­at­ing MBA stu­dents at 204 AMBA-ac­cred­ited busi­ness schools in more than 70 coun­tries world­wide. Each year, ev­ery ac­cred­ited busi­ness school in the world nom­i­nates one out­stand­ing MBA grad­u­ate for the MBA Stu­dent of the Year Award. En­try cri­te­ria in­clude aca­demic achieve­ment, ca­reer ad­vance­ment po­ten­tial, ex­cep­tional lead­er­ship and am­bas­sador qual­i­ties. Di­betso out­shone all the other en­trants to take first place in this pres­ti­gious in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

Di­betso’s in­spi­ra­tional story be­gan in Rusten­burg, where he grew up. His mother’s ad­vice to him was to strive for a good ed­u­ca­tion, be­cause ed­u­ca­tion was the best es­cape route out of poverty. “My mother’s words were that no-one can take your ed­u­ca­tion away from you,” says Di­betso. Am­bi­tious and mo­ti­vated to suc­ceed, he em­braced his mother’s ad­vice whole­heart­edly. “You can in­vest in a lot of things but if you put your money into your mind, you’ll never lose it. You’ll al­ways be gain­ing from it,” he says.

Hard­ships on his jour­ney, in­clud­ing the fail­ure of a com­pany and bank­ruptcy, only bol­stered Di­betso’s drive and hunger to suc­ceed. In his words: “I de­cided to do an MBA be­cause I re­alised my busi­ness failed not only be­cause of eco­nomic down­turn, but also due to poor busi­ness prin­ci­ples I had ap­plied.”

Soon af­ter he f in­ished his MBA in 2012, Di­men­sion Data pro­moted Di­betso to Gen­eral Man­ager of West Africa in May 2013, at which time he re­lo­cated to La­gos. Just a few months later in Oc­to­ber, he was pro­moted to the po­si­tion of Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor: West Africa.

“Ed­u­ca­tion is the dif­fer­ence be­tween poverty and suc­cess. I am a true ex­am­ple that, even though the odds are against you due to your coun­try of birth, the era of your youth or the poor eco­nomic cir­cum­stances, you can suc­ceed if you per­se­vere. So never stop striv­ing to be the very best that you can be,” Di­betso says.

What are the im­pli­ca­tions for SA, and for Africa, of hav­ing a South African win­ner of the in­ter­na­tional AMBA com­pe­ti­tion? Ac­cord­ing to Di­betso, “This award is big­ger than me. It is an award for the African na­tion. We can be­gin to value the qual­ity of our busi­ness schools. It is no sur­prise that in the top six fi­nal­ists we had two South African busi­ness schools. Let us con­tinue to up­hold the high stan­dards of ed­u­ca­tion in our ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions and, more im­por­tantly, to spread it to other schools that need as­sis­tance or men­tor­ship. This award is say­ing our schools are world­class; there­fore we can be­gin to at­tract stu­dents from out­side of our con­ti­nent. Africa is ready for the well-ed­u­cated busi­ness peo­ple who will build the new African multi­na­tion­als.

“The African peo­ple must be­lieve that we can tran­scend our cir­cum­stances and be the best in the world. When stu­dents en­rol at univer­sity they need to re­alise how global we have be­come and they need to per­form with the global mind­set. We need to take the same at­ti­tude into the work place.”

Di­betso is the first African ever to win the AMBA Award. What is it about him

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