Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Youth Day: Make it an everyday event

South African and it people celebrated Youth Day yesterday at the time of writing. This in the day on which thousands of youth died when they were protesting against the apartheid education system which was using Afrikaans, more than English, as a medium of instruction.

Every year in South Africa, young people gather around in groups, addressed by youth organization leaders, different political parties’ leaders – reminding them of much they should remember this day (June 16) and that many have shed blood while other incurred permanent scars as indications.

It is on this day that everyone “preaches” to the young and some times, to those that have gone past the “youth period” – adults.

It cannot be disputed that people have lost their lives and other got injured – emotionally and physically.

Although some of these “youth day preachers” agree that SA youth face a lot of challenges – they are also saying that these “challenges” are not different from those of the 70s.
Currently, SA youth faces a lot of challenges – unemployment.
This is the mostly experienced by those that have just completed their university degrees or colleges – and have followed fields of studies that are “not critical” to the economic growth of the country. Study of fields that the government advices youth and school leavers to pursue are science, technology, accounting, and education.

What is somewhat disturbing about the “youth day preachers” is that: they only seem to know the challenges youth face only on this day (June 16) and while throughout the year – they (youth and their challenges) are and always seem to be forgotten.

To all the “youth day preachers” in South Africa – please make Youth Day an everyday event, where youth can be provided with information on how to meet their different needs.

Rising cost as a challenge to the youth of today is inevitable. This is because after completion of their studies (at university or college), they have to find as much information about which companies are likely to employ they graduates, who according to Finweek magazine are “inexperienced young black.”

For example, a graduate in the North West province who lives in Seoding village (near Pampierstad, Taung District), in the case of using media (especially print and Internet) as a source of employment information – he will have to pay about R50 from and to the nearest town Hartswater in the Northern Cape.

What is more disturbing is when this young person is from a disadvantaged family, or worse – when that person is looking after his young brothers and sisters with a government grant of roughly R900 an month – chances of him/her not buying a newspaper (City Press, Sowetan or Sunday Times) to look for employment are high.

When people are in these vulnerable situations, especially youth, they do not need to be told of Programmes that are in the final phase of being finalized to that they can be implemented, to address youth challenges.
No more promises please.

As a youth graduate, irrespective of my field of study and lack of experience as some prominent companies, expert and even government say – it should not take one more than 2 let alone 1 years to find employment. The SA education system needs to prepare us for the world out there – but for only those who want to work for someone and not create opportunities whereby they would one of those good days employ people.

From observation, youth do not “celebrate” youth day as is expected of them by the political leaders, especially the ruling party and its oppositions. They, instead go for “all-night-drinking” spree. This is because some of the established youth organizations, national and provincial Youth Commission are not effective or do not work at all.

Not only are that (Youth Commission), but SETAs that were formed to help bridge the gap between unemployment and employability non-existent. It is however, only a few of those that are working, e.g. banking SETA.

It is only when these “youth day preachers” need our (youth) blessing or votes during elections that they come running to us. But throughout the year – we are forgotten citizens or masses.
If all the youth structures in place are not working or effective at all – get rid of them. It is important to get youth involved all the time and not only when they are members of the ruling political party’s youth league!

As for Youth Parliament, they will not achieve whatever goals set as far as they are far away from the majority of youths who are stuck in underdevelopment communities and or villages with lack of information available or at least, nearer to them.

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