By Nkeko Motloutsi
The Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (MP), in conjunction with the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Mr Nathi Mthethwa (MP), launched Youth Month at the beginning of June. The theme for this year is: “Youth Power: Growing South Africa together in the period of Covid-19.”
The entire country is encouraged to participate in Youth Month by recognizing the present and future role of the youth in shaping the social and economic landscape of the country.
The South African Youth Day commemorates the Soweto Uprising which took place on 16 June 1976. Thousands of protesting learners were ambushed by the then apartheid regime and massacred as they peacefully marched against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction, inequality in education and racism. They stood up for their human rights which had been trampled upon for ages. As South Africans pay tribute to the lives of these bold and courageous young ones, their crucial role in the liberation struggle is also acknowledged.
A sharp contrast is noticeable in the youth of today. They are faced with gender-based issues, unemployment, poverty, gangsterism, substance abuse and many social-ills that impede their progress in life. There is definitely a vast difference between the 1976 youth and the current one. Where there seems to be entitlement, people tend to relax and expect to be given anything and everything on a silver platter. The South African government should put their focus on the following:
- Engage the youth to participate in the Socio-Economic activities of the country through creating jobs and empowering them with knowledge and skills;
- Holistic approach to education and health related matters;
- Encourage entrepreneurship and being independent from government as getting jobs is challenging; and
- Skills Development and Transfer.
TVET Colleges have an enormous role to play in uplifting of the youth, skilling and developing them through programmes available at different institutions of learning. Poverty can also be alleviated by ending unemployment which is the biggest monster facing them. Communities, schools, colleges, universities and all government departments must work hand in glove to lend a helping hand to the youth of the country because they are future leaders.
“The South African” newspaper has listed the five landmarks you can visit on 16 June: Hector Peterson Memorial and Museum, where you can view photos of the protest; Vilakazi street, Walter Sisulu Square, Apartheid Museum, Constitutional Hill
Empower! Encourage! Motivate! Engage! Train and Develop! Send out! Follow up!