LETTER | Youth of today need to create own future

The South African flag.
The South African flag.
Image: Supplied

I was not in existence on planet Earth when the atrocities were committed against the youth, particularly the schoolchildren of June 16 1976. But I have witnessed numerous commemorations over the years.

The reality is that young people represent a potentially powerful political force in South Africa, and Africa. If they all voted in the recent national elections, they could fundamentally change the political landscape.

But, sadly and unfortunately, young people remain at the margins by largely being ignored by most economic development structures.

This situation is not unique to South Africa, but globally too. This makes the youth feel alienated, and they end up having little trust in institutions of power, authority and service delivery machineries.

First, the lack of employment, or the severely high level of unemployment is a common and pressing concern.

Young people of today want to be able to become independent, assume more adult responsibilities and eventually start families of their own.

However, the lack of employment means that vast numbers remain stuck in a precarious situation, dependent on their families, state grants or piecemeal jobs.

Second, another challenge mentioned frequently is that of inadequate access to free, affordable and quality education.

Completing matric does not mean the youth have the skills necessary to obtain employment or become successful entrepreneurs.

Access to tertiary education remains limited due to poor-quality public-sector education.

Even those who obtain an adequate matric pass are faced with inadequate funding opportunities and limited access to universities or TVET colleges.

Third, most of the youth are branded delinquents, vigilantes, menaces and activists in social ills and unrest situations such as drugs, all varieties of crimes and sex trade.

Sadly, a lot of us adults hardly comprehend what propels young people to jeopardise their futures to such an extent.

To mention just a few, some of these young people are from single-parent or female-headed homes due to absent fathers, the lack of or limited financial resources and the incapacity of parents to enhance their studies.

Sadly, this adds severe and abject poverty, with the entire family living below the breadline, and young girls getting sexually involved with older men (called Blessers) for financial gain and returns.

In the long run, young people are frequently involved in hooliganism and vigilantism as a preferable way to express their grievances and obtain a response from those in authority.

But the question remains: what, if anything at all, will it take for young people of today to grasp the future with their own hands?

Only time will tell.

Ernest Nartey Hogah  

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