'Social timebomb' for SA

2009-12-22 00:00

PRETORIA — South Africa is sitting on a “social timebomb” with more than three million youths between the ages of 18 and 24 who don’t have jobs and don’t receive any education or training.

According to a report titled “Responding to the educational needs of post-school youth”, which was published recently, it is not only an educational problem, but part “of a socio-economic disaster”.

In 2007, 2,8 million of the roughly 6,7 million youths between 18 and 24 had no jobs or training. Only 35,3% of them attended educational institutions.

The study was done by the Centre for Higher Education and Transformation (Chet), the Further Education and Training Institute (Feti), the government and the Ford Foundation, which provided funding for the study.

It found that the current post-school education and working environment is characterised by a large number of students who leave without any further training opportunities. The college sector has been recapitalised, but has serious problems with regard to capacity.

Furthermore, the merging of institutions also resulted in a decrease in opportunities for young people, while the Setas (sector training bodies) have failed and about two million foreign workers with relatively good qualifications have entered the labour market.

“The two worst things that can happen is to leave the school system between grade 10 and grade 12, and achieving matric without exemption,” states the report.

The study found that SA will have to expand and improve post-school training opportunities drastically if the state wants to do something about the hopelessness of thousands of young people.

It was also found that, between 2000 and 2007 there was little “demographic transformation” with regard to who participates in higher education.

In 2000 the chances of whites being in universities were two times higher, and in 2007 it was three-and-a-half times higher.

There are also deep-rooted inequalities with regard to access to and benefits from tertiary training. Financial help plays a major role in who goes to university and to which institutions.

The study also found that people’s chances to find work and earn better salaries goes hand in hand with better training and tertiary qualifications.

People with matric earn between 40% and 70% more than those with less schooling. Those with a diploma or certificate earn between 170% and 220% more and those with degrees between 250% and 400% more than those who didn’t finish matric.

The researchers recommended an investigation with regard to how the higher education sector and the college sector can work together.

There must also be greater clarity regarding the target for admissions that the Higher Education Department sets for universities.

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