#YouthDay - Although we are free, many people - like my grandmother - are not educated.
There are shortages of skills that are required in the job market and many people cannot meet those requirements.
Take for example my cousin, Sipho. He passed Grade 12 in 2012 and it is difficult for him to find a job because he doesn’t have any qualifications.
As a result he turned to crime just in order to help his family. Unemployment can cause people to become desperate, such as selling your body to older men just in order to be able to provide money at home. This usually affects their health as they end up having diseases and unplanned pregnancy.
We as teenagers get easily influenced by the media such as TV, radio, magazines and our peers. My friend, whom I will not name, tried to change the way she looks just because she saw an article in the magazine saying big girls should be ashamed of themselves.
The biggest challenge that we face as teenagers is the teenage pregnancy happening in schools, and it’s difficult to overcome. There are clinics which help to prevent pregnancy but we just don’t listen and want to experience things. I had a friend who got pregnant at a young age and as a result she had to drop out of school and had to go find work so that she can be able to provide for her baby.
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There is also a lack of resources in the clinics and hospitals, especially in rural areas. People struggle to get there as there are no proper roads and bridges to help them get to the hospitals and clinics.
It actually happened to me when my mother took me to the hospital where we waited for more than four hours to get help, eventually there were others with worse conditions who were involved in an accident and some of them died in pain waiting to get help from the doctors.
We hear stories every day of children and women being abused by men they trust and love. It’s not safe anymore, and also not easy to trust men. Recently my friend told me a very sad story that her father raped her and abused her mother every day.
The second biggest challenge that we face as the youth of South Africa is seeing young children drinking alcohol, smoking drugs as if they are doing the right thing.
These drugs and alcohol end up affecting their health as they are not healthy. Woman are still taken for granted and it is believed that they should be in the house cooking and washing dishes not working.
Women are believed not to be strong enough to handle a man’s job and take decisions when they are emotional. I remember my mother’s friend when she got a job in police department and it was hard for her for people to accept that she deserved the job, she had to prove that she can also handle man’s work.
Many of our young children are exposed to gangsterism and think it’s the only way to get out of poverty and be able to make easy money.
This is mostly common in black townships such as Cape Flats. Children think that when you are a gangster you are cool, rich and live a nice life which is not true at all. They are not educated enough on where gangsters end up.
I had an uncle who was a gang leader and everyone thought it was cool being him and wanted to like him. It happened one day when they were robbing a bank and they got caught by the police and arrested for robbing. He got a life sentence and died there in prison.
The youth of 2015 did an unthinkable thing to challenge the democratic government to make education free in the tertiary level. It has showed that we as the youth can change the world if we just stick together and stand for what is right. The state has agreed that this year there will be no increase in tuition fees.
* Noluncumo Maxengane is a pupil at Langa High in Cape Town.