The Youth Day event was about youth responsibility in current South Africa and the event was arranged by the Southern African Institute for Responsive And Accountable Governance (SAIRAG). The purpose of the event was to engage with various stakeholders to discuss challenges faced by youth in the current dispensation and how the 1976 youth movement created an impact that solicited change in the livelihoods of youth around the country.
The event was attended by over 100 people representing various interests and the overall sentiments expressed by those present included how the role education played in affecting appropriate change in the lives of youth and how the current educational sector lacks the capacity to address the educational needs of the youth in helping them actualise their full potential. Other mentioned challenges were:
- Lack of access to infrastructure particularly for youth in previously disadvantaged communities where the common narrative in those communities highlights youth lethargy in areas of sports and creative arts, poor academic accomplishments, participation in criminal activities, substance abuse etc.
- An academic curriculum that did not meet the social context of the youth involved, therefore, creating unrelatability to the lessons taught.
- A general pessimistic outlook on life that is generally generated by the general state of the country, particularly the socio-economic prospects that project a bleak future should nothing be done to address the underlying issues.
- Lack of political will from a legal perspective to accelerate general youth development.
Many suggestions were made in terms of how the above-mentioned challenges could be addressed, the most notable recommendations coming from Mr Molekoa where he highlighted the following:
Skills mismatch – The need to realign the education system with the economic demands, i.e. education and training programmes should begin to target the skills gap
Entrepreneurship and life skills training – The need to aggressively support entrepreneurship and life skills education.
Access to capital – Many young people struggle to find access to affordable loans or loans in general, due to a lack of collateral.
4IR and digital divide – Increase access to technology/internet and close the digital divide and make it more affordable, especially in rural provinces.
Provinces as economic hubs – The need to develop rural provinces as economic hubs which will potentially create job opportunities and skills.
Partnership and collaboration – Private sector, government, and stakeholders should collaborate to tackle the challenges facing SA today.
Threat – The high unemployment, especially among the youth is a time bomb and a threat to the security and stability of the State.
If Gov continue to turn a blind eye, there might be another strife, like the July unrest,
After much deliberation, the participants all agreed that one session would not resolve the mentioned challenges and others related to them however it was concluded that further deliberations, as well as action and partnerships, would be necessary to further engage on the mentioned challenges to come up with an appropriate solution.