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Treasury hosts Public Economics Winter School

The GTAC Winter School: building an inspired generation of economic leaders

With five days of debate, learning and the opportunity to network with financial academics and leading economists at the Public Economics Winter School, the 150 young attendees are keen to put their new knowledge to work towards building South Africa's economy.

Economics gives us so many answers to what's happening in the world around us and how we can deal with those issues, said budding economist Lerato Monaisa. Economic models help us to answer questions about whether our economy is growing or not. I went into this because I feel like the public [sector] needs young fresh minds that are hungry and want, and have the drive, not only to learn but to serve.

Now in its fourth year, The Government Technical Advisory Centre's (GTAC) annual winter school, which took place at the South African Reserve Bank in Pretoria last week, aims to foster an understanding of economics, financial analysis and policy, in terms of how it relates to the public sector. It also hopes to inspire young economists and postgraduate students to consider a career in the sector.

In his welcoming presentation, Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago encouraged participants to consider a career in the Treasury: If you want to work with complexity, start at the National Treasury; that is where you will learn about public policy.

The stimulating week of learning took place across three electives: Taxes, user charges and behavioural change; education economics and financing and; fiscal policy and fiscal sustainability. Along with the valuable insights gleaned from the lectures, participants had the opportunity to network with leading economists. The result was an event that was marked by fierce debate, as some of the country's sharpest young minds shared their thoughts on how to rebuild South Africa's economy.

Said Grace Bridgeman, a GTAC bursary student: It was incredible to be exposed to the many different voices and views in the same room we had presentations from people working in academia, Treasury, NGOs, trade unions and the [Department of Basic Education]. It was particularly interesting to hear the robust debates between researchers and government officials, and those between trade union members and social activists.

Her peers were equally inspired.

I've chosen to attend this programme because it gives us the opportunity to meet with business leaders and high-profile people who we can exchange knowledge with, who can impart a lot of knowledge about the economy and who can inspire us to be better leaders of tomorrow, said GTAC Winter School intern Baneng Naape.

Meanwhile, Ireen Semenya had this to say: I've been exposed to such great experts in different fields so I'm very excited to gain knowledge and to get my questions answered, specifically about education but also other topics we've been taught about.

The unforgettable week drew to a close with a bit of fun. The top 10 students evaluated for their social-media engagement and participation were rewarded with a breakfast where they could spend one-on-one time with public economics experts and high-level officials. And then there was the entertainment! The 12 groups presented their understanding of the complex issues they had worked through over the week via roleplaying exercises, much to the delight of both speakers and delegates.

Source: Government of South Africa

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