Government has published its Draft National Youth policy for 2020 – 2030, outlining its plans to get more young South Africans into education and employment opportunities over the next 10 years.
The document states that youth unemployment has reached ‘crisis proportions’ in South Africa and remains one of the major challenges facing the country today.
“South Africa’s unemployment rate is high for both youth and adults; though, the unemployment rate among the youth currently stands at an alarming 56.4% and is considered to be one of the highest globally,” it said.
“Against this background, it is clear that the major contributor to poverty, inequality, and unemployment amongst the youth in South Africa is the low level of educational attainment and skills.
“The latest national data from Stats SA (2018) shows that of the 10.3 million persons aged 15-24 years, 32.4% (approximately 3.3 million) were not in employment, education or training, with females constituting 35.3% and males 29.6%.”
Other statistics that point to a failure in the education system include:
- About 52% of 24-year-olds in the country have completed Grade 12, compared to 70% in most developing countries;
- A million young people exit the schooling system annually, of whom 65% leave without achieving a Grade 12 certificate;
- Half of those who exit the schooling system do so after Grade 11, either because they do not enrol in Grade 12 or they fail Grade 11.
Plans to fix the problem
To address the issues in South Africa’s education sector, the policy document outlines a number of proposals which should be introduced by 2030.
Below BusinessTech outlined the proposals for each sector.
- The Department of Basic Education, in partnership with private providers, should support learners who need a ‘second chance’ to pass matric. The Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology should also provide young people who have left school with the opportunity to complete their education to enable them to compete in the open labour market;
- All schools should be encouraged to have an anti-racism policy that supports small freedoms such as allowing African children to wear natural Afros to schools;
- All South African learners must learn an indigenous language. Sign language should also be progressively introduced in all schools;
- Basic computer literacy should be included in the school curriculum;
- Practical subjects such as entrepreneurship, technical skills and handwork (art) need to be introduced to the curriculum help those who are not inclined to proceed to higher education;
- Schools in rural areas should be able to use local farming land for practical or experiential learning in agriculture. Local farmers can mentor learners;
- Existing incentives to attract young people to the teaching profession should continue until at least 2020. This means that teacher salaries should be competitive.
- The number of TVET colleges should be expanded to increase the participation rate to 25% and the graduation rate 75% by 2030;
- Government should introduce a new community college framework designed for youth who did not complete their schooling or who never attended school and thus do not qualify to study at TVET colleges or universities. This will offer tailor-made qualifications to meet the needs of the youth;
- The government should progressively introduce free education for poor learners until undergraduate level and increase the funding options available to support students at the post-secondary level who are academically successful but unable to complete their study programmes due to financial hardships;
- All higher education institutions (colleges, universities) must introduce foundation programmes for learners in transition from the basic to higher education learning environment. These foundation courses should include soft skills development to help students cope with university demands;
- All government departments including municipalities should have internship programmes, which should be monitored in terms of numbers and quality;
- Every qualification at university should be coupled with an experiential component to ensure graduates have experience when they qualify;
- The BRICS virtual university must be established to facilitate the use of ICT for educational purposes and promote access to education, particularly for females;
- Based on feasibility studies, agricultural colleges and schools of excellence must be established in each province and agriculture faculties must be introduced and/or strengthened in universities and TVET colleges.