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The Beyond Painting Classrooms Report Launch Breakfast on 16 March was an opportunity for corporate entities and individuals to learn how to become active citizens.
The breakfast saw attendees discussing economic and social change, followed by a presentation given by two keynote speakers who encouraged active citizenship and social responsibility.
The first keynote speaker was Mark Heywood of Section27, an organisation which focuses on Section 27 of the Constitution and promotes everyone’s right to healthcare, food, water and social security.
Jenitha John, the chief executive officer of FirstRand Corporate Centre, was the second keynote speaker at the event. John began her presentation by saying that it is humbling to see how many people want to leave a legacy.
She quoted Mahatma Gandhi when she said that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others, and then went on to explain the factors which make one a good corporate citizen.
“Maximising the potential of people and putting capital into development are of utmost importance. Ethics, sustainability and corporate social investment are essential,” she said.
According to Heywood, businesses need to focus on making a social difference. “We have moved from Mandela to Marikana and from Constitutional awareness to cynicism. As part of employee volunteer initiatives, businesses need to provide brains that can improve the economic and social crisis,” he said.
“It is not enough to paint a classroom or build a structure. Strong and innovative minds are needed to make a permanent change. Individuals need to learn how to create change with others rather than for others.”
Although Heywood brought up many worrying points, he explained that there is still hope for social and economic change in that South Africa has enormous social capital.
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