June is Youth Month and every year on the 16th, South Africa commemorates the 1976 Soweto uprising to pay tribute to learners who stood up against the apartheid government. A reminder for all that young people were at the forefront of our struggle. It also provides us with an opportunity to take stock of the strides we have, or haven’t made, in addressing issues facing the youth.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, less than 40% of children starting school went on to pass matric and only 4% obtained a degree. Many learners leave school early, pass rates are low, and the demand for jobs among the working youth outstrips the supply.
COVID-19 has disrupted the academic year and has made finding employment even more difficult as thousands of jobs have been lost. Our youth now stand at the forefront of another struggle, one that will also have a crucial impact on their futures and the futures of those who will come after them. It is a time that they must take and use the opportunities that the youth of 1976 fought so hard for. It is a time for innovation, a time for commitment and a time for leadership.
We need a generation of leaders who will get the economy back on track, leaders who will tackle the social issues and challenges that we have in our communities, and leaders who will not sit back and point fingers at others but rather who will be first to put their shoulder to the wheel.
As parents and guardians of the youth, it is our responsibility to guide this generation and provide them with the skills and tools they will need to succeed. We need to give them a moral compass so that they rather help, not trample, others along the way.
I believe our youth are now at a crossroads. They can take the road to despair and complacency, or they can take the road opened up for them by the youth of ’76.
Issued by: Communication and Marketing, Drakenstein Municipality