Monday, 29 April 2013

Young people feel forgotten. Case Study of Khayelitsha Youth in Cape Town

This article explores challenges and needs that hinder youth development in Khayelitsha, reviewed programmes available and suggest some strategies that can contribute to the uplifting of the youth*.

Photo taken by Joseph
Trying to define youth, Somers[i]  states that “youth” definition often vary according to culture. He gives an example of a presentation about African youth whereby members of the audience mostly mid-career humanitarian agency professionals, were asked to define youth. Those from North America and Europe spoke first, debating the appropriate age range. The ages mentioned were generally between 12-13 and 21-25. Those from Africa spoke next. They did not mention age in their definitions. Instead, they spoke of youth as a stage of social development between childhood and adulthood, a time of life stretching from puberty to the acceptance of the responsibilities of marriage and family.
Aluede cited by Abudu[ii] argues that unpleasant youthful activities are widespread in Nigeria and all over Africa, to the extent that they have been giving a lot of concern to the government and general public. In primary schools, peers engage in organized crimes and disrupt normal academic programmes. In secondary schools and most Nigerian universities, the activities of secret cults are known to have been source of threat to lives and property. Outside the campuses, a lot of ritual killings are taking place.

Furthermore, Abudu enumerates some of the consequences of drug abuse which are as follows: Mental disorder, social violence, gang formation, cultism, armed robbery  syndrome, internet frauds, social miscreants (area boys and girls) lawlessness among youths, lack of respect for elders, rape, loss of senses, instant death and wasting of precious and innocent lives and many more.[iii]

All over Africa Governments have started to realize that there is no tangible development if young people are left aside and not involved in the process.  At present we are witnessing many initiatives that tempt to involve youth in decision making and uplift them from the poverty. However youth all over Africa remains in dire poverty. Many countries have created a ministry to cater for youth, youth council or other structures whose main objectives are to help youth.
The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR)[iv] states that youth felt that they are not properly consulted before programmes regarding them. Youth occupy critical space in South Africa’s relatively young democracy. This, perhaps, should come as no surprised, as youth involvement in the struggle against injustice is a part of South Africa’s heritage. While youth activism in the quest for social justice is an integral part of South Africa’s history, youth today face a different set of challenges. Instead of the injustices of the apartheid state, issues such as HIV/AIDS, the growing gap between rich and poor, lack of quality and equal education, more subtle forms of racism and growing of discontent in South Africa’s political institutions are among the obstacles to a sustainable, just and inclusive democracy.
Furthermore, IJR goes on saying that this new changing context presents new challenges for youth and complicates the critical space that young occupy. Moreover IJR states that the opportunities afforded to youth to become involved remain inadequate and greater social-economic and moral support for youth leaders is still needed
The difficulties facing youth are considerable and are mainly related to the poverty. The following are the most difficulties facing youth as highlighted by the Youth of Khayelitsha:
  • Non education: this is supported by Development Support Monitor (DSM) report[v] that argues that education remains the one goal that most African countries are likely to attain. however, citizen access to secondary school remains inaccessible to the majority; and that who managed to study there is no jobs for them
  • Unemployment: all participants mentioned unemployment as the first problem that affect youth and it was rated as the core centre of all other miserable life that youth go through. They said that being unemployed make them helpless, cannot study and cannot thus far be sure of tomorrow. As one mentioned when you don’t have a job you cannot support yourself nor your family. A youth leader explaining the relationship between unemployment and crime stated that when youth are not working, they tend to do anti-social activities such as prostitution, drugs, drinking and robbery; he applauded the work VPUU is doing in Khayelitsha which has reduced crime in the area. VPUU use urban upgrading work as a tool to fight crime.
Oftentimes these anti-social activities lead to endanger and put the life of youth at risk. As one respondent who works at youth centre in Khayelitsha site B mentioned; most of the youth clients they receive are victimized because of unemployment; young female are obliged to do sex at early age because they are promised jobs or just because they are not working and expect everything from their male partners which makes them being constantly dependent. This is collaborate by what a female respondent from the Northern Cape to the 10th anniversary national poverty hearings conducted by African Monitor in 2008 said that “without employment young people end up doing wrong things like selling themselves for food and money, robbing people and afterwards getting illness like HIV and AIDS.”[vi]
  •   Drugs, crime and gangsters  were cited as the main challenges
  • Exclusion:  youth expressed their dissatisfaction on how the community is not caring as before; they feel that they are left on their own from the family till to the whole community
  • Mommy Sugar: A youth leader also mentioned about young male dating older women of age of their parents just because they get financial support from them; an example is of a desperate young male who applied for a job on Gum tree, (a South African website) after few days he was called for an interview that actually become a dangerous trap. He was offered a job to find himself having unsafe sex with his employer to know later on that the woman was a HIV positive.
The purpose of this paper was to assess what are challenges facing youth and to gain insights on youth’s impression of programme available to them so as to formulate recommendations on what can be done to assist youth development. As the Department of Social Development argues, “in order for South Africa to develop relevant policies for its young people, there is a need to determine the magnitude of the youth sector in terms of numbers, to establish where the youth live and to investigate the types of activities in which these young people engage.”[vii] This paper has provided valuable information if taken into account by different partners can help uplift youth from the dire poverty. As this paper has mentioned, youth feel that they are overlooked and their problems are not taken seriously; we recommend that jobs for youth needs to be addressed properly, carefully and quickly as a matter of emergency through a variety of interventions.
As some young people are unable to search for jobs due to a lack of funds, CDE suggests some of the ways to deal with this; from promoting ‘unemployed discounts’ for photocopying, faxing and Internet usage to providing these facilities by municipalities, local libraries, or local schools after hours. Life skills instruction in secondary schools should thoroughly cover job search issues, including building up a network of contacts, writing a CV, preparing for interviews, developing the personal attributes (discipline, time-keeping, etc) essential for formal employment, and also developing the generally flexible approach needed to get into the workforce.[viii]
When youth are empowered, given opportunity they can help themselves and help the community. Youth need to be consulted in the designing variety of programmes that cater for them but also on the programme regarding the community they live in.

Youth insisted that they would like to see consistent programmes instead of once off programmes that don’t last. The author supports the recommendation by SAYWA to be taken into account when a programme or a project to uplift young people is being created.  SAYWA cited by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)[ix] argues for the expansion of youth work settings to include:

         Outreach programmes
         Social work authorities

         Educational authorities

         Youth employing bodies

         Information centres

         Community centres

 *The full paper of this article was presented by Joseph Eliabson  at AISA Young Graduates and Scholars programme on March 21-23,2012 at the University of Venda, Limpopo.

[i] Sommers, M., 2001: Youth, care& protection of children in emergencies; a field guide. Save the Children. Page 3
[ii] Abudu 2008:page 1
[iii] Abudu 2008:page 6
[iv] Institute for Justice and Reconciliation,2010.  Ashley Youth Development programme.
[v]  African Monitor, 2010; Development Support Monitor, making MDGs attainable and their outcomes sustainable, Cape Town
[vi] African Monitor 2008, the people have spoken, where do we go from here? Extract of key issues emerging from the 10th anniversary national healings August-September 2008.  Page 15
[vii] Human Science Research Council (HSRC), 2011. Youth work; fresh insights that cut through inequalities. Presented on the 1 September 2011
[viii] Centre for Development and enterprise, 2007. The struggle for jobs. Evidence from the South African young persons survey. CDE Focus No 13: 3.  July 2007
[ix] Idem

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