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Fix education system to give youth a better future, urges Amnesty International SA
16 June 2021, 11:00 PM

 

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.

Lesotho marks Day of African Child
16 June 2021, 9:04 PM

June the 16th in Lesotho has been marked and celebrated as a Day of an African Child. This year marks 30 years since the adoption of African Charter and recommitment to accelerating efforts for and with children.

On Wednesday, the Kingdom of Lesotho inaugurated the office which hosts the Secretariat of the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

Lesotho’s Prime Minister, Dr Moeketsi Majoro, says the relocation of this office will highlight more work that needs to be done to protect the rights of an African Child, and eliminate a high rate of abuse to orphaned children, mostly from people who are supposed to be protecting them.

The office seeks to ensure facilitation of the implementation of the Children’s Chapter, which is aligned to the agenda 2040, which pursues the main strategic agenda 2063 of the African Child.

The African Children’s Charter is supervised by the African Children Committee, which promulgates ‘The Agenda 2040 for an African Fit Child with effective child-friendly national legislative, policy and institutional framework in place in all African member states.

The AU Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development has welcomed the role of the Lesotho King as the Nutrition Champion in Africa.

SA logs over 13 000 COVID-19 cases, highest since January
16 June 2021, 8:45 PM

South Africa’s COVID-19 cases amid the third wave has broken the 13 000 mark.

The Health Department says 13 246 cases were reported overnight, which represents a 21.7% positivity rate.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, this is the highest number of daily cases and positivity rate since January.

Health activist Dr Kgosi Letlape reacts to rising COVID-19 numbers:

The country now has 1 774 312 coronavirus cases since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020.

Hundred and 36 new fatalities were reported overnight, taking the total national death toll to 58 223.

The NICD is urging South Africans to remain vigilant and follow prevention measures as diligent as possible to help stop the spread.

It is also calling on young South Africans to assist the elderly register for vaccinations.

So far, 1 965 812 South Africans have received their COVID-19 shots.

OPINION | No one is coming to our rescue, youth must take up space!
16 June 2021, 3:02 PM

 

The young people of South Africa are in a permanent state of depression and hopelessness. Largely because we have given up the baton.

All revolutions across the world were led by decisive, united and radical young people. The fact that our country is in a speedy state of demise is one that cannot be argued anymore.

The rate of youth unemployment speaks volumes. This dizzying 46.3%  unemployment rate of young people was coming – COVID-19 or not. Savanna and the “Yanos” (culture of excessive youth partying) have taken over, the revolution is happening there. But what about the realities that will still remain even after a night of groove?

The true liberation of this country will not happen for as long as we are still stuck in the delusion of drunkenness and twerking.

As we commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Soweto massacre, which has been renamed
Youth Day to try and sanitise the reality of the day, young people in South Africa need to have an urgent shift of mind and take upon the task of youth economic liberation upon themselves.

Notwithstanding the fact that, as youth, we are within a permanent stage of depression and hopelessness, our brothers and sisters need to realise that no one is going to come to our rescue.

We have given too much power to old political careerists to destroy our future. These people are busy building and cementing their careers and in doing so, they will make sure that young people do not emerge because they know clearly that once we take power – we will make sure that all criminals rot in jail.

The future belongs to us. All our current leaders will not be with us on earth in 2063. We are the ones who will have to account to the next generations as to why did we allow criminals to lead us and destroy the future.

‘COVID a blessing’

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for young people in the country as it
necessitated the urgency of technological adoption and integration into our lives.

The old generation is still struggling with even clicking a link to join a virtual meeting. This is a field
for young people to play in.

Let us forget the obsession of looking for jobs because that was relevant until the end of the third industrial revolution. This fourth revolution requires us to be innovative and bring about sustainable solutions.

As the electoral system opens for individual candidates, young people should be ready to run for all positions, even if it means challenging a pensioner of a political organisation that you belong in. We need to declare ageism an enemy in public service and government.

The time for young people is now!

I do not believe that when Solomon Mahlangu said we should continue the struggle he
meant that we should do exactly what we saw destroying him. The enemy we are facing today does not have a specific colour.

We need to contest power and challenge ageism everywhere. The only way to win is to forcefully and strategically contest and take power.

We are dreaming if we think that we are going to be given space by the same people who are responsible for our suffering. We need to take up space forcefully and strategically so, not by destroying the little that we have.

Young people are capable, singayisusa nomanini na!

By Kabelo Mahlobogwane, businessman, unionist and public speaker.

OPINION | State and institutions have key role to play in responding to youth jobs crisis
15 June 2021, 3:00 PM

High youth unemployment is a burning issue this Youth Month. Creating jobs and economic opportunities for the youth has become a political, economic and social necessity. To develop appropriate policy responses, however, we need to understand the structural reasons behind the extraordinarily high level of youth unemployment.

The recent Stats SA Quarterly Labour Force Survey shows us that in the age category of youth (15-34) there are 20.4 million young people, and that 44% or approximately 8.9 million young South Africans are not in employment, education or training.

What is behind these numbers?

Part of the problem is that there is so little scope for self-employment in South Africa. In other developing countries, many more youth would be absorbed by smallholder agriculture and informal businesses, but these sectors have never recovered from the ravages of apartheid.

In any case, few urban youth want to become peasant farmers. Economic development the world over has seen a shift from rural to urban rather than the reverse. Further, the informal sector has not provided an outlet for these unemployed youth – poor incomes, limited growth prospects, and precarious employment in largely overtraded types of enterprises has not made the informal sector particularly attractive.

The formal labour market has, however, not been able to absorb the number of youth entering the job market each year. The labour market has been growing (outside of the period around the global financial crisis and COVID-19), but not sufficiently to absorb enough young people into the labour market. Until we address the factors slowing employment growth for all workers, we cannot hope to solve youth joblessness.

Still, formal small businesses provide some scope for the youth. The most successful enterprises are typically started by those who have some measure of work experience or technical skill, business knowledge and resources. Over a quarter of formal business owners have a degree and a similar share has some other form of post matric qualification.

But the persistent, profound inequalities of the education system deprive most of our young people of the skills they need to succeed in the modern economy. Many leave before matric, and most schools still do not focus on the competencies needed for today’s world of work – that is, excellent language and computer skills, basic maths, problem solving and design.

The higher education system, while not the only answer, most certainly has seen a large impact with a significantly greater proportion of graduates employed, and contributes significantly to the establishment and running of small businesses. In contrast, outside of some professional and artisan programmes, the TVET system does not provide the competencies that employers want.

The devastation on the economy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has particularly hit labour absorbing sectors such as construction and services, further impacting on the job opportunities for young people.

What then is to be done? It is clear that the priority on gaining work experience and education are a core part of the solution. Further, strengthening the small business eco-system to support youth must be high on the agenda. This support must adapt to the specific needs of youth enterprises, and reach the scale required to make an impact.

The opportunities that democracy has presented us in opening up South Africa to the world should not be ignored as we consider that young people today have exposure to new technologies, new ideas, and are often digitally enabled. These opportunities, however, do not mean that young people are able to emerge out of poverty just because they live in a democracy.

There are no doubt individuals who have enormous self-drive and have been able to do so; but the deep inequalities and high poverty levels that still persist in South Africa highlight the key role that the state and institutions need to play in responding to the national crisis of youth unemployment.

Written by Saul Levin, the Executive Director of Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS).

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