Youth must be central in development

2014-06-04 14:00

Racialised inequality, which could lead to instability in our society, finds its most acute expression in the alienation of our youth, who constitute more than two thirds of our population.

The youth vote was critical in the creation of the political capital the electorate bestowed on President Jacob Zuma’s administration. Young people must work to reap a dividend from this.

As the recent national census attests, there are no signs population growth will slow in the foreseeable future.

We must leverage the talents and energies of young people to create equitable prosperity and radically alter the management and ownership patterns of our economy.

Building young people’s skills, harnessing their energies and acknowledging young people’s aspirations will contribute to economic growth and social stability.

In the violent service-delivery protests that have plagued impoverished communities across the country recently, young people are often at the forefront. We have more than 600?000, mainly black, unemployed graduates.

Literacy rates among young people are woeful and lag behind other middle-income countries. There is a general incongruence between the education our young people receive and the demands of our untransformed economy.

Through the National Youth Policy, government attempted to integrate youth development into mainstream government policies.

To this end, programmes and strategically located youth units/directorates were created and directors-general, heads of departments and municipal managers were expected to take direct responsibility for outcomes. Sadly, there has been no deliberate implementation and accountability to give effect to this.

The major objective of our proposed youth development index will be to have a uniform, singular index against which South Africa could measure its attainment of its identified goals.

We will argue that it be located in the presidency. The index will focus on the educational levels of our youth, skills, ICT connectivity and literacy, health, travel experience, and management/ownership of the economy.

We will lobby for each government department to submit annual reports on the status of youth in their sphere of responsibility.

All of this will have little effect if the private sector is not involved. We will thus lobby the Treasury and associated departments to place pressure on private companies to comply with the index’s guidelines, which will be released in their entirety in November.

Without the radical transformation of our economy, youth development will be blunted. Our generation must be equal to the tasks of this moment.

» Mzobe is the national coordinator of the national task team of the ANC Youth League

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