“But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today” – Deuteronomy 8:18
There was much interesting global feedback to last week’s column “Education and Poverty”. These comments reflected on “the full meaning of education”, referred to “the millennium development goals”, were in the form of a supplication for “officials who want to take funds from and not add funds to our educational systems”, and sadly ruminated “some richly endowed countries can be in the hands of such mentally bankrupt leaders”.
Here is an extract from a cited article entitled “The Secrets of Intangible Wealth” by Ronald Bailey, Reason magazine’s science correspondent, in the publication on September 29, 2007, Page A9.
But what is intangible wealth, and how on earth is it measured? And what does it mean for the world’s people – poor and rich? That’s where the story gets even more interesting.
Two years ago the World Bank’s environmental economics department set out to assess the relative contributions of various kinds of capital to economic development. Its study, “Where is the Wealth of Nations?: Measuring Capital for the 21st Century,” began by defining natural capital as the sum of non-renewable resources, cropland, pasture land, forested areas and protected areas. Produced, or built, capital is what many of us think of when we think of capital: the sum of machinery, equipment, and structures (including infrastructure) and urban land.
But once the value of all these is added up, the economists found something big was still missing: the vast majority of world’s wealth! If one simply adds up the current value of a country’s natural resources and produced, or built, capital, there’s no way that can account for that country’s level of income.
The rest is the result of “intangible” factors – such as the trust among people in a society, an efficient judicial system, clear property rights and effective government. All this intangible capital also boosts the productivity of labour and results in higher total wealth. In fact, the World Bank finds, “Human capital and the value of institutions constitute the largest share of wealth in virtually all countries.”
The bottom line: “Rich countries are largely rich because of the skills of their populations and the quality of the institutions supporting economic activity.”
I defined Education as a journey of discovery over which one garners more and more from the experiences gleaned along the way, while at the same time building character towards the goal of becoming the consummate human being. A journey that aspires to the ultimate destination of wisdom. We must therefore spare no resources in creating opportunities for all to participate in the journey of discovery. The resulting wisdom will redound to the benefit of the country and poverty reduction will ultimately be an output from the process.
There were two family milestones which occurred in the past week both of which are candidates for contributing to intangible wealth. Firstly, my mother (93 years old) was elated when Sally Miller of Miller Publishing presented her with the first copies of her second cookbook “A Lifetime of Recipes by Rita Springer” (hard cover – coffee table style), hot off the Singapore press. My mother was expecting them a bit later in the year but quietly concealed her surprise. It looks very impressive, full of exquisite colour where the dishes are pregnant with appeal. The bulk of the copies will not arrive from Singapore before early December with a planned launch in mid-December 2007. Her first cookbook “Caribbean Cookbook”, which was the first by a Caribbean author and which is part of the housewife’s culinary library around the world, was first published in 1968. This present publication adds a new dimension to Caribbean Culinary standards.
I do recall my wife, Kean, typing the manuscript for Caribbean Cookbook, as she did for my Masters and Doctorate theses, when we were all in the UK in the late sixties. This provides a bridge for the second family milestone which was an announcement by Kean, in a tone of voice which conveyed both relief and fatigue, that her completed manuscript of “Truly a Gentleman”, a celebration of the life and times of my uncle, National Hero of Barbados, the late Right Excellent Sir Hugh Worrell Springer had just been sent by courier to Ian Randle Publishers in Jamaica.
The book records the first phase of Sir Hugh’s working life, in which he developed his political, administrative and legal acumen. Thereafter he moved on from one high office to another in the field of education, as the first Registrar of the University College of the West Indies, and secondly to Director of the Institute of Education at the University of the West Indies. Finally he moved to the Development level of his career as Assistant Secretary-General (Education) and Secretary-General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London. Finally, the zenith of his public life when he received the highest accolades, those of being appointed Governor General and being named a National Hero of Barbados.
We are thankful to Him who gives us the ability to produce wealth.