As South Africa commemorates the 1976 Soweto Uprising, Amnesty International South Africa is calling on the government to prioritise fixing South Africa’s education system, which the organisation says is failing.
The human rights group believes the move will give all the country’s youth, no matter their background, an opportunity for a better future. It says this will also make the Ramaphosa administration’s dream of enabling the full participation of young people in the economy, a reality.
“This, however, is not possible if the country’s education system is still broken and unequal,” says Amnesty International South Africa’s Executive Director, Shenilla Mohamed.
Amnesty International SA believes that the country’s high youth unemployment rate is also a result of the legacy of apartheid that’s dogging the country’s education system.
According to Statistics SA, 46.3% of South Africa’s youth, between the ages of 15 to 34, were without jobs in the first quarter of this year. It also showed that of the 7.2 million unemployed, more than half had education levels below matric.
“The youth cannot continue to be punished for the government’s failures,” Mohamed says.
Discussion on challenges facing young people:
An Amnesty International SA report in February highlighted how students from poorer communities have been cut off from education during extended school closures due to COVID-19, in a country where just 10% of households have an internet connection.
Impact of COVID-19 on SA’s education system:
Mohamed is urging the government to learn the lessons of what worked and did not work over the past year-and-a-half.
She says, this time round, authorities should ensure that all children have access to adequate learning and that the education system does not continue to be broken and unequal.
“We cannot expect every young person to have an opportunity to build a better life for themselves and society in the future if the government does not ensure that they uphold their right to decent education now,” she says.
Amnesty International South Africa says reforming the education system will also fulfil the dream of the youth of 76, who died for decent and equal education when the apartheid police fired live ammunition on them.