South Africa baldly needs strong youth organisations to save its future leaders from the current economic mess and pave a good future, writes Rofhiwa Raselavhe
Unlike the youth of 1976, who were worried about liberating the country from oppressive rules and getting quality education, the post-apartheid generation has to struggle against poverty, unequal access to education, corruption, deadly diseases and forever staggering unemployment. By and large, they have been – on many occasions – being let down by maladministration and corruption as well as selfish leadership. Youth organisations – just like any other institutions in the society – are faced with questions about their roles in society or what they should achieve uplifting the youth. A rippling effect of the latter questions is that youth organisations find themselves in a mud trap and unable to have a positive impact on the youth.
Although the youth have been confronted by trials and tribulations rather than a fulfilling life, they stood at the heart of the struggle and ensured that South Africa achieve democracy. Explicably, measures to uplift these future leaders from tough socio-economics conditions have been put in place, but their result never left a lasting mark in a many lives. In a similar vein, democracy continues to benefit a few, while many young black South Africans have to face life often with limited resources. The establishment of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) in 2008 sought to help the youth in developing their skills, among others, but to date its policy and programmes have not done enough to benefit those who badly wanted help. This Agency – aimed at developing and implementing integrated and sustainable youth development programmes, as well as creating and promote coordination in youth development matters in the country – was mandated to drive development programmes and relief the youth from their pressing economic conditions. But the current socio-economic conditions paint a damning picture about these youngsters and their future.
According to the National Youth Economic Empowerment Policy, the youth constitute 34.6% of the South African population. In the 2007, a study by Stats SA Labour Force Survey reported that the youths make up 73% of the country’s 23% unemployment figure. Recently, releasing his report, auditor-general Terrence Nombembe, said the Agency that is supposed to assist the youth in creating job and business opportunities has an irregular expenditure mounting up to R133 million. To a well-read person, who understand that South African is a country pregnant with inequities and that has a huge gap with the haves and haves not, simple questions would be that what happened to the money? How many emerging businesses could have been funded from that amount? This is a mess. A society that does not take care of its young generations will become its worst enemy. What happened to our leaders who can serve the interest of the country without indulging in ugly activities? The creation of stricter policies to govern this agency may not help if our leaders use state resources for personal aggrandisement. It is no doubt that South Africa has better economic policies, but the problem lies with the implementation and evaluation of progress, as well as accountability when projects fail to materialise.
Every year there are possibly more than 70 000 graduates from country’s tertiary institutions, but many fail to infiltrate the job market. In a report by Xolani Mbanjwa of City Press, University degrees or diplomas no longer hold the promise of jobs for young South Africans as hundreds of thousands of them battle to find work. The agency should be assisting these youths by creating employment opportunities for them.
As unemployment remains one of the major challenges facing the youths, different organisations have made proposals to solve this challenge. Among those proposed policies include the youth subsidy proposed by the DA. According to a report on Sowetan 6 August 2012, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) believes South Africa should immediately introduce the youth wage subsidy in order test whether it would yield results. The reason why many youths remain unemployed is because they lack skills and experience. The youth subsidy should be used to assist get the required skills in the private sector. The institutions that have been set up by the government such as the 21 Sector Education and Training Authorities have failed to provide skills required in the job market and that leaves thousands of youths stranded after graduating from these programs
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