Today marks 44 years since hundreds of young people were shot dead and many others injured by the apartheid police. The young people of Soweto were fighting for the scrapping of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction at schools.
While a lot has changed since then, today’s youth are faced with various challenges, including job scarcity and violence against women and children.
Matriculants are faced with an uncertain future after losing two months of learning due to the national lockdown. It has made it tricky to plan their lives beyond high school while the world battles COVID-19.
Matric learner, Asipha Lushaba, is calling on government to urgently tackle the high unemployment rate, especially among the youth.
“As a young person on the verge of stepping into adulthood, we are living in a world that is currently changing tremendously. It is very scary since the rate at which the world is moving towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution which we as the country of South Africa are far behind at, the scarcity of employment has made me fear for my future . Being a youngster leads to having dreams and goals that we crave to pursue. I one day want to achieve success and pursue my chosen profession having these goals, however, these goals cannot go forward due to unemployment and the drowning economy. We as the youth aspire a lot and would like to change the world for better,” says Lushaba.
There are many like Lushaba, who share similar fears over the uncertainty over their future. A feeling of not knowing and frustration that was exhibited by the youth of 1976 during the Soweto uprising.
Kisa Dlamini was part of the ripple effect of student voices that emerged from the main protest in Soweto. Dlamini says in 1976 they used extra classes to catch up with lost time.
“Time has been lost we lost about four months and in one instance we lost about six months in 1978 so it is possible to make up for the lost time and with all the advancement in technology. I believe that learners can still make it through extra classes as well as attending the virtual classes that are being offered by the SABC,” says Dlamini.
— Lynette Ntuli (@MsNtuli) June 16, 2020
South Africa’s unemployment rate was 29.1% just before COVID-19 hit the country. Some economists now envisage a 50% unemployment rate as companies shed workers and close shop.
In the video, South Africa’s youth use Youth Day to call for an end to gender-based violence: