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In this newsletter:
Benchtest 09.2021, not being top performer, joining another fund under FIMA and more...



NAMFISA levies

  • Funds with October 2021 year-end must submit their 2nd levy returns and payments by 25 November 2021;
  • Funds with April 2021 year-end must submit their 1st levy returns and payments by 25 November 2021;
  • and Funds with November 2020 year-end must submit their final levy returns and payments by 30 November 2021.
FIMA and NAMFISA Acts published in the government gazette
 
The government published the FIMA (Act 2 of 2021) and the NAMFISA Act (Act 3 of 2021) in the government gazette no 7645 on 30 September 2021. Downlaod NAMFISA’s public notice here...
 
Both Acts, or provisions of these Acts, will come into operation on a date the Minister will determine by notice in the Gazette.


Pension fund governance - a toolbox for trustees
  • Download the privacy policy here...
  • Download a draft rule dealing with the appointment of the board of trustees here...
  • Download the code of ethics policy here...
  • Download the generic communication policy here...
  • Download the generic risk management policy here...
  • Download the generic conflict-of-interest policy here...
  • Download the generic trustee performance appraisal form here…
  • Download the generic investment policy here...
  • Download the generic trustee code of conduct here...
  • Download the unclaimed benefits policy here...
  • Download the list of fund service providers duly registered by NAMFISA here... 
  • Download the Principal Officer performance appraisal form here...
  • Download the revised service provider self-assessment here...

Registered service providers
UPDATED June 2021


Certain pension fund service providers need to be registered by NAMFISA and need to report to NAMFISA regularly

These service providers are:-

  • Registered Investment Managers
  • Registered Stockbrokers
  • Registered Linked Investment Service Providers
  • Registered Unit Trust Management Companies
  • Registered Unlisted Investment Managers
  • Registered Special Purpose Vehicles
  • Registered Long-term brokers
  • Registered Long-term insurers

If you want to find out whether your service providers are registered, or whether you need to establish directly from NAMFISA because the service provider does not appear on the list, use this link...

Check out our retirement calculator


Our web based retirement and risk shortfall calculator has been enhanced and updated to assist you to determine how much you should contribute additionally, either by way of lump sum or regular salary based contribution, to get to your target income at retirement, death or disablement.

Try it out. Here is the link...


If you need any assistance with your personal financial planning, you are welcome to get in touch with Annemarie Nel (tel 061-446 073) or with Kristof Lerch (tel 061-446 042)



Dear reader

In this newsletter we address the following topics:

In ‘Tilman Friedrich’s industry forum’ we present:

  • Not being the top performer is not good enough!
  • FIMA bits and bites – key points to consider when joining another fund after FIMA (part 2)
  • FIMA bits and bites – trustees cannot insure against personal liability

In our Benchmark column, read about…

  • Important circulars issued

In ‘News from RFS’ read about…

  • Important circulars issued
  • Marthinuz Fabianus celebrates 20th anniversary at RFS
  • Other employment anniversaries
  • RFS welcomes new staff
  • RFS sponsors restoration of a historic school building

In ‘Legal snippets’ read

  • When may an employer request its fund to withhold a benefit from a member upon termination of membership?
  • Revisiting employer-funded policies and the Income Tax Act
  • Revisiting Withholding Tax on services payments to non-residents

In media snippets, read –

  • Desperate South African workers are ‘resigning’ to get access to retirement funds – but SARS is taking note
  • Ten rules for a secure retirement for women
  • Discussing ethics with children is a vital part of parenthood
  • How much do government employees earn – SA vs. Namibia
...and make a point of reading what our clients say about us in the ‘Compliments’ section. It should give you a good appreciation of who and what we are!

As always, your comment is welcome, so open a new mail and drop us a note!

Regards
Tilman Friedrich
   


Monthly Review of Portfolio Performance
to 30 September 2021


In September 2021, the average prudential balanced portfolio returned -0.4% (August 2021: 1.2%). The top performer is Allan Gray Nambibia Balanced Fund with 1.3%, while Hangala Prescient Absolute Balanced Fund with -1.9% takes the bottom spot. For the 3-months Old Mutual Pinnacle Profile Growth Fund takes the top spot, outperforming the ‘average’ by roughly 1.8%. Hangala Prescient Absolute Balanced Fund underperformed the ‘average’ by 2.4% on the other end of the scale. Note that these returns are before (gross of) asset management fees.

The Monthly Review of Portfolio Performance to 30 September 2021 provides a full review of portfolio performances and other insightful analyses.  Download it here...


Not being the top performer is not good enough!

The Benchmark Default portfolio is currently experiencing a difficult time, investors taking the fund to task for not featuring at the performance table’s top end.

Investing is like a sports game, whether it is soccer, rugby, hockey, or whatever, and the investor serves as the coach. His investment is his team; the opponents are the investment market. The coach may take one of two routes, a speculative route or a planned route. Taking the speculative course, the coach would attempt to capitalise on the opponent’s weakness as the game progresses, focusing on winning the game. The planned route requires the coach to know his opponents and his team and what result he wants to achieve. This knowledge will determine the strategy he must follow. He may not always want to win each game if that means preserving his team’s completeness, fitness, and health for the next game.

Investment is not a one-game matter but rather like winning the league. One can follow similar approaches when investing. The speculative course means that the investor tries to identify opportunities in the market and invest in these, focusing on making a killing on the investment. How one identifies opportunities is important. Laypeople would consider what has done well over the recent past and jump onto that band-wagon. Experts would use benchmarks for assessing whether an investment presents an opportunity. Often the benchmark considers the investment relative to other similar investments, the market, or the investment’s historical metrics. In a planned approach, the investor would define his ultimate goal and a strategy for achieving this goal…

Read part 6 of the Monthly Review of Portfolio Performance to 30 September 2021 to find out what our investment views are. Download it here...


FIMA bits and bites – key points to consider when joining another fund after FIMA (Part 2) 

Read part 1 of this article here...

FIMA will raise the goalposts for funds, trustees, and service providers materially. Compliance failure under FIMA may lead to imprisonment of up to 10 years and penalties of up to N$ 5 million. In certain instances, even trivial administrative shortcomings can result in imprisonment. Boards of trustees currently often comprise the employers’ senior management members, and imprisonment would automatically disqualify the senior management member from filling any senior position at the employer. As a result, many employers and trustees are contemplating a move to an umbrella fund.
 
Under FIMA, the fund rules bind the employer, the members and the fund. The fund is a separate legal entity under the trustees’ control. The trustees must take all outsourcing decisions and how to deal with the fund’s assets, subject to FIMA, the fund’s rules and its policies. The employer must consult the fund and its members.
 
Once FIMA has become effective, a fund wishing to transfer to another fund must comply with General Standard 10.10 on outsourcing, and to Retirement Funds Standard 5.22 on the transfer of any business.

GEN.S.10.10 – Outsourcing
  • This standard contains a detailed exposition of requirements relating to a financial institution such as a retirement fund or financial intermediary, such as an administrator outsourcing a ‘material business activity.’ It prohibits the outsourcing of any ‘primary function’ for which the entity has been registered by Namfisa. It is to be noted that privately administered or ‘stand-alone’ pension funds mostly outsource all their key business activities, such as fund administration and asset management, to which this standard will apply.
  • It requires in particular when outsourcing that the board and senior management must –
    • Identify, assess, manage, mitigate and report on relevant risks;
    • Approve the outsourcing policy;
    • Have procedures in place to ascertain compliance with the outsourcing policy;
    • Clarify that it retains responsibility for the outsourced activity;
    • Ascertain that the overall risk management system takes into account the outsourcing risks and controls;
    • Ensure that the outsourcing policy deals specifically with outsourcing to subsidiaries or affiliates and to an entity located outside Namibia.
  • The regulated person must be able to demonstrate for the purpose of outsourcing that it has –
    • Prepared a business plan;
    • Undertaken a selection process;
    • Undertaken a due diligence review;
    • Involved authority in approving the agreement;
    • Establish procedures for monitoring performance;
    • Establish procedures for renewal of the agreement;
    • Develop contingency plans for possible alternatives;
    • Consider all key risks;
    • Where an activity is outsourced to a subsidiary or affiliate –
      • assess the impact of this on the risk profile within its risk management framework;
      • the cost of outsourcing is not greater than the fair value of like services by an arms-length service provider;
      • assess the ability of the affiliate to provide service on an ongoing basis;
      • ensure that the affiliate is performing effectively.
  • The regulated person must have a signed outsourcing agreement in place prior to the commencement of the outsourcing arrangement.
  • The standard further, with regard to outsourcing agreements –
    • Contains detailed requirements with regard to its content;
    • Requires that Namfisa has access to the service provider;
    • Contains special provisions relating to off-shoring arrangements;
    • Contains provisions regarding remuneration;
    • Contains provisions regarding its auditing;
    • Requires that Namfisa be notified within 30 days of an outsourcing agreement having been entered into;
    • Requires that Namfisa be notified within 30 days of any extension, renewal or amendment thereof;
    • Requires that Namfisa be provided with a summary of key risks and mitigation strategies in this regard;
    • Notify Namfisa of any material development in this regard.
  • Fund service providers, primarily the administrator and asset managers, need to adapt their service agreements to meet the requirements of this standard. It is also advisable that funds formulate an outsourcing policy that will guide their actions in relation to appointing service providers for ‘key business activities.’
RF.S.5.22 – Transfer of business
  •  No transfer of benefits and corresponding assets and liabilities may be made, if (S 2) –
    • either of the funds
      • is not in compliance with the Act and this may prejudice transferring members;
      • is party to litigation and this may prejudice transferring members;
      • is technically insolvent;
      • is not expressly authorised by rules to make or receive a transfer.
    • funds have not concluded an agreement governing the transfer;
    • NAMFISA has not approved the agreement;
    • the transferring employer is in default vs transferee/ transferor fund or NAMFISA.
  • NAMFISA may notwithstanding S 2 approve a transfer if requirements of S 4 have been met and the transfer is in the interests of the members of both funds.
  • NAMFISA will not approve a transfer unless it is satisfied that (S 4) –
    • the transfer agreement has been submitted jointly by both funds;
    • members were given at least 3 months’ notice to voice concerns, prior to the effective date and the agreement adequately addresses all legitimate concerns;
    • provisions of Chapter 10 regarding transfers and amalgamations has been complied with;
  • the transfer agreement –
  • protects transferring members’ accrued benefits and reasonable benefit expectations;
    • provides an analysis showing that remaining members of the transferor fund and members of the transferee fund are treated equitably and showing the impact of the transfer on the financial position of both funds;
    • stipulates that accrued benefits of transferring members are fully vesting;
    • stipulates that the transferring members’ period of service will be recognised by the the rules of the transferee fund;
    • where assets, not cash is transferred, specifies and analyses (by independent advisor) the methodology for selecting assets;
    • in the case of a transferor fund that is not a defined contribution fund that has an actuarial surplus –
      • it describes members’ rights to an allocation of any surplus according to the rules;
      • provisions are made for the allocation of surplus;
      • the valuator’s opinion provides that the allocation is equitable to the transferring and the remaining members;
    • in the case of a transferee fund that is not a defined contribution fund –
      • it describes the effects on the rights to surplus that may reasonably be expected to result from the transfer of accrued benefits;
      • the valuator’s opinion provides that the rights to a surplus (of remaining members?) are not adversely affected by the transfer;
    • Includes a certificate by both funds confirming –
      • the transfer is authorised by and in compliance with the rules;
      • disclosing the proportion of members that have formally objected to the transfer.
    • Includes a statement of the costs of the transfer.
  • If applicable, the following reports must be appended to the transfer agreement upon submission to NAMFISA (S 5) –
    • any statements of opinions of the fund advisor or valuator;
    • report on what the statement of opinion is based on.
 We note that section 4 (d) (viii) indicates that it will be sufficient for an unspecified proportion of fund members not having formally objected to the transfer for NAMFISA to approve the transfer.
 
Funds should ascertain that the rules are amended to provide for making and receiving transfers and for amalgamating with other funds in compliance with this standard.
 
We would advise that funds better carry out their decision to move to an umbrella fund before FIMA becomes effective. Since the Gazette published FIMA, the declaration of its effective date is imminent.

 
Tilman Friedrich is a chartered accountant and a Namibian Certified Financial Planner ® practitioner, specialising in the pensions field. Tilman is co-founder, shareholder and Chairman of the RFS Board, and retired chairperson, and now trustee, of the Benchmark Retirement Fund.
 

 

Compliment from from an HR officer of a former client fund
Dated 31 August 2021

“I would like to say that I absolutely enjoyed working with …, one of the best I ever worked with. He is tops in my opinion. Always going out of his way to assist.”

Read more comments from our clients, here...


 
Important circulars issued by the Fund

The Benchmark Retirement Fund issued the following fund administration-related circulars to its clients over the last month.
Günter Pfeifer is Principal Officer and was formerly a trustee of the Benchmark Retirement Fund. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Cum Laude). He completed his articles with Deloitte & Touche. He completed the De Beers ‘Program For Management Development’ at Gordon Institute for Business Science, and the Advanced Development Program at the London Business School. He was formerly Financial Manager of De Beers Marine.
 


Important circulars issued by RFS

RFS issued the following fund administration-related circulars to its clients over the last month.
  • Circular 2021.09-13 – Revise RFIN Timetable for industry consultations on FIMA regulations and standards 
Clients are welcome to contact us if they require a copy of any circular.

Marthinuz Fabianus celebrates 20th anniversary at RFS

RFS philosophy is that our business is primarily about people and only secondarily about technology. Every time a fund changes its administrator, a substantial amount of information and knowledge is lost. Similarly, every time the administrator loses a staff member, it loses information and knowledge, also referred to as corporate memory. As a small Namibia-based organisation, we cannot compete with large multinationals technology-wise because of the economies of scale and sophistication that global IT systems offer. To differentiate us, we need to focus on personal service and on the persons delivering that service to foster customer acceptance and service satisfaction and be more flexible and more responsive to local needs and the local environment. With this philosophy, we have been successful in the market, and to support this philosophy, we place great emphasis on staff retention and long service.

We congratulate Marthinuz wholeheartedly and express our sincere gratitude for diligently leading the company over the past three years and for his dedication and commitment to the company and our clients and other stakeholders over the past 20 years!
 

Other employment anniversaries

Zulene Bio celebrates her 5th anniversary on 1 November 2021. We express our sincere gratitude to Zulene for the years she devoted to RFS and her clients and wish her many more enjoyable and satisfying years with the company!
 

RFS welcomes new staff
 
We are pleased to announce that Crezelda Kooper joins our permanent staff complement on 5 November as a Benchmark client manager with added responsibilities of providing board services to the Benchmark Retirement Fund board of trustees.

Crezelda matriculated at Delta Secondary School in 2006. She joined Alexander Forbes in October 2007 as a fund administrator and moved to the fund accounting department at the beginning of 2010, where she was later promoted to the position of team leader: fund accounts. She moved to the retail department of AF as a team leader in April 2014. Crezelda joined Old Mutual in October 2016 as a team leader in their corporate segment. At Old Mutual, she was responsible for administration-related deliverables on both their pension and provident funds.


RFS sponsors Projekt Lilie gala event
 
Education is the key to prosperity in any society. To RFS, all forms of education take centre stage in our sponsorship programme. In this endeavour, RFS supports school sports events in various codes and various other related causes and events. September is the month of the Projekt Lilie gala evening in recognition and support of teachers who have excelled in promoting education in Namibia. This project is a legacy of former Privatschule Karibib. The occasion had its 16th anniversary this year, and the board of curators has been chaired since its inception by Tilman Friedrich, who is one of the initiators.

 
The Award winners 2021 (Gold Lily winner absent) in the foreground, and board of curators at the back One of the wonderful and unique handcrafted plaques

Here are the Lily winners of 2021:
  • White: Leany Fredericks of Namib High School Swakopmund
  • Bronze: Ilse Liechti of Private School Swakopmund
  • Silver: Lynette Jansen van Rensburg of Namib High School Swakopmund
  • Silver: Carolin Janik of Delta Secondary School Windhoek
  • Gold: Renate Austermühle of Delta Secondary School Windhoek. (absent)
RFS sponsors restoration of a historic school building

In our June newsletter, we reported on our sponsorship of the Privatschule Grootfontein for the restoration of their historic hostel that once served as a military hospital. Here are a few photos of the project.

 
Before - Ceiling and trusses show rain damage... ...and after.
All done!
 


NAMFISA calls virtual meeting to discuss FIMA roll-out
 

FIMA sent out a circular on 10 October, inviting all Chief Executive Officers and Principal Officers of Regulated Entities to a virtual session on how NAMFISA intends to roll out the formal consultations in respect of the sub-ordinate legislation of the FIM Act. The meeting will take place on 8 November from 11h00 to 12h30. Confirmation of attendance is expected by 1 November
 

When may an employer request its fund to withhold a benefit from a member upon termination of membership

The requirements for a deduction by the employer from a benefit due to the member from his retirement fund are:
  • An amount must be due by a member of a fund to his or her employer.
  • The amount must be due at the date of retirement or the date on which the member ceases to be a member of the fund.
  • The amount must be in respect of compensation payable.
  • The compensation must be in respect of any damage caused to the employer.
  • The damage caused to the employer must be by reason of theft, dishonesty, fraud or misconduct by the member.
  • The member must have furnished a written admission of liability to the employer in respect of the compensation in respect of the delictual damages caused to the employer or
  • Alternatively, the employer ought to have obtained a judgment in a court in respect of the compensation.
Revisiting employer-funded policies and the Income Tax Act
 
Paragraph (m) of the definition of „gross income‟ stipulates as „gross income‟ “any amount received or accrued under or upon surrender or disposal of, or by way of any loan or advance granted by the insurer…, any policy of insurance upon the life of any person who at any time while the policy was in force was an employee… or director of the company if any premium paid …was deductible…under section 17…”. Any loan or advance previously included in „gross income‟ is to be excluded. If a policy is terminated and a paid-up policy is issued, these are deemed to be one and the same policy.
 
Section 17(1)(w) deals with „general deductions‟ and more specifically with “expenditure incurred by the taxpayer in respect of any premiums payable under a long-term policy of which the taxpayer is the policyholder, where…” any of the following conditions apply:
  • the premium is included in the taxable income of the employee;
  • the taxpayer is insured against any loss by reason of the death, disablement or severe illness of an employee;
  • the policy is a risk policy (as opposed to an investment policy) that has no cash or surrender value prior to maturity or the death of an employee;
  • the policy is not the property of any person other than the taxpayer;
  • there is no scheme in place in terms of which policy proceeds are paid over by the taxpayer to the employee or a connected person, to the estate of the employee or to any person who is or was dependent upon the employee. 
Revisiting Withholding Tax on services payments to non-residents

In practice, Namibians, including Namibian pension funds, mostly have dealings with South Africans, and in general, the services provided by South African service providers would be subject to Namibia’s double taxation agreement with South Africa. This agreement prohibits the taxation by Namibia of any of the following income –
  • Income of a Namibian resident from immovable property, including agriculture or forestry situated in SA;
  • Business profits of an SA resident unless they were derived through a permanent establishment in Namibia;
  • Profits derived by an SA resident from the operation or rental of ships, aircraft, or road transport vehicles and the rental of containers and related equipment in international traffic, unless the place of effective management of the business is situated in Namibia;
  • Participation by an SA resident in management, control, or capital of a Namibian associated enterprise to the extent that they were earned on an ‘arms- length’ basis;
  • Capital gains of an SA resident from the alienation of immovable property unless the property was situated in Namibia;
  • Independent personal services derived by an SA resident individual unless that individual has a fixed base regularly available to him in Namibia;
  • Dependent personal services by an SA resident (salaries, wages, and other similar remuneration), unless the employment is exercised in Namibia;
  • Remuneration derived by a servant of the SA government in the discharge of governmental functions exercised in Namibia;
  • Teachers on a temporary visit of not more than two years to Namibia to teach at a Namibian education institution;
  • Payments received by an SA student, trainee, or apprentice for the purpose of his training or education in Namibia;
  • Income not dealt with under any of the bullets above or below that did not arise in Namibia.
The income of a South African taxpayer that may specifically be taxed in Namibia is the following:
  • Dividends paid by a Namibian company;
  • Interest arising from Namibia;
  • Royalties arising from Namibia;
  • Directors’ fees in the capacity as director of a Namibian company;
  • Income derived by entertainers or sportspersons derived from activities in Namibia;
  • Any pension or annuity derived from a Namibian source by an individual where such income is taxed only in part in South Africa, to the extent that it is not taxed in South Africa;
  • Income that was not dealt with in any of the above bullets if it arose in Namibia


Desperate South African workers are ‘resigning’ to get access to retirement funds – but SARS is taking note
 
“Momentum Corporate’s multi-employer umbrella fund, FundsAtWork, has received several requests from participating employers to allow members to resign ‘artificially’ to get access to their retirement savings.
 
Employers then reinstate the employee once they’ve obtained access to their savings. Momentum said this trend is not unique to FundsAtWork and is evident across the industry…The trend reflects the financial vulnerability of many employed South Africans. To make matters worse, many employees are unlikely to receive salary increases, let alone inflationary-related increases, as many businesses struggle to bounce back from the pandemic…Should SARS suspect the exit from employment was formally structured as a legitimate resignation while the real intention was deliberately disguised to allow the employee early access to their retirement savings withdrawal benefit, they will investigate further, and if they find this is in the case, they could revoke the income approval of the retirement fund.
 
This would mean, among other things, contributions to the retirement fund will no longer be tax-deductible and investments and their growth would be taxed, which would impact significantly on the financial viability of the retirement fund…”

Read the full article by Staff Writer in Businesstech of 27 September 2021, here…

Note: Namibia is no different from SA From the tax perspective. Employers must take note of the potential consequences when allowing employees to resign to get their pension fund benefit.
 

Ten rules for a secure retirement for women

“…many women are being overlooked when it comes to retirement planning. When confronted with the hard realities of available retirement money, death, divorce, or disability, it always makes sense to talk openly to your spouse timeously and discuss the exact point of reference and standing for both of you.

It would make sense to look at 10 general rules that affect retirement planning for women. These rules apply to both common law and same-gender relationships.
  1. Understanding your partner’s retirement scheme and this can be done by starting to get the details of your partner’s employee benefits, which includes their retirement and health benefits.
  2. Setting your retirement plans in stone should be a non-negotiable with yourself, while the continuation of those plans must be absolute.
  3. Save money all the time, as much as possible.
  4. Ensuring that you are the beneficiary of life assurance policies taken out on your partner’s life.
  5. Always preserving your retirement savings is key.
  6. Make relationship histories clear and transparent. In the event of you or your partner having been married before, establish the financial consequences of the divorce(s).
  7. Clarify “what is mine is mine.” What is yours must remain so, and if you are helping a partner, for example, in funding a business, make it a repayable loan rather than a gift.
  8. Keeping your assets in your name and it is especially valid if your spouse runs their own business.
  9. Get independent advice, preferably from a different financial planner.
  10. Be in control. A sure-fire way towards a calamity is an attitude of “I am bad with figures, so I let my partner do all those things for me.” 
Read the full article by Wouter Fourie in Moneyweb of 11 October 2021 here…



How much do government employees earn
– SA vs. Namibia


According to Businesstech of 3 October, the average earnings of SA government employees amounted to R 400,000 in 2019, heading towards R 450,000 in 2021. The article notes that by comparison, the average formal sector remuneration was R 277,500.
 
Taking Namibia’s GIPF 31 March 2020 annual financial statements, its fund members’ average annual pensionable salary was N$ 186,600. By comparison, the average formal sector pensionable remuneration in Namibia was N$ 222,300.
 
The Namibian information derives from RFS’ pension fund database. It is possible that these figures do not quite compare “apples with apples”, but they will be pretty close to that. The SA figures may represent total remuneration, while Namibia figures represent pensionable remuneration. For the “upper echelon,” pensionable remuneration is often lower than total remuneration because of employment benefits. However, it is not clear whether SA figures represent total remuneration. If they do, one can probably add one-third to the Namibian figures for a better comparison. The average remuneration of Namibian government employees would then amount to about N$ 250,000, and the average remuneration of the Namibian formal sector would then amount to about N$ 300,000.
 
One may conclude that SA government employees’ remuneration is totally out of line while the formal sector remuneration is much more in line with Namibian figures.
 
Read the full article by staff writer in Businesstech of 3 October 2021, here...
 

Discussing ethics with children is a vital part of parenthood

“Many families and almost all schools spend a great deal of time academically developing their kids. This is a good thing. Yet I think it is at least as important for us to all think consciously about how we ethically develop the next generation to be decent members of society…

Ethics and values should be spoken about regularly in homes. Often they already are. Every time your child comes home with an example of something “unfair” that happened at school, this is an opportunity to speak about ethics…

Consistently discussing ethics with your kids is one of the most important things you can do. And look at it this way — tens of thousands of parents are out there at the moment drilling their children in extra comprehension, grammar and maths questions that come from joyless “swot-up” books. I doubt that these are producing engaged, quality discussions between parents and kids…

Pandemic Ethics are a practical stream into the ocean of personal liberty, choice and the limits of government. They also ask hard questions about the ways we value human life. There is a practical side to this as well…

Information, advice and rules come from all sorts of places in a pandemic. Sometimes they will give differing opinions about what to do – whether to go out, how serious it is, whether to wear a mask, etc. Who should you trust to give you reasonable information? Who should you obey if they tell you to do something like stay at home? This question goes to the heart of truth and reliability – with life or death consequences, as we all know. Some key concepts that might affect your discussion include: reliability; track record; our own ability to judge; public health versus private health; corruptibility…

Some of these conversations might feel more like tip-toeing through a minefield. In the security of your own home I believe you can let your children say some unvarnished, half-thought-through things from any side of the political or ethical spectrum. They should learn, grow and mature as the years go on, particularly with your guidance…”


Read the article by Newington College headmaster Michael Parker, in The Sydney Morning Herald of 27 September 2021 here…



Great quotes have an incredible ability to put things in perspective.

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” ~  Mark Twain

 
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