Youth Participation in Post-Apartheid SA Debated by Panel
The School of Education, through the Community Development Association’s (CDA) Masakhane Youth Leadership Course, recently hosted a panel discussion titled: “Identifying Our Issues: Youth Participation in a Post-Apartheid South Africa”.
The discussions involved young South African political leaders and more than 250 Grade 11 learners from disadvantaged schools in KwaZulu-Natal.
The panellists were political party representatives Mr Hlanganani Gumbi (Democratic Alliance), Mr Marshall Dlamini (Economic Freedom Fighters) and Mr Sanele Mthembu (ANC).
The session was chaired by Ms Nomzamo Hope Nxumalo, the former National Leader of the CDA, who believes that the panel was ‘critical for introducing learners to issues they are passionate about while also making them aware of their role in society, especially as they will soon be eligible to vote’.
The panel discussed pertinent issues affecting today’s youth, while offering insight into how the learners could be effective leaders and agents of change in their communities. The emerging themes of the discussion centred on leadership, accountability and education. The panellists were in agreement that self-belief, respect and courage were vital in becoming an effective leader.
Mthembu called for learners to be accountable for their actions. ‘We are not vocal enough about issues that affect us. If you know who is selling drugs outside your schools, you should be doing something about that.
‘If you know your friend has a sugar daddy or a blesser, why aren’t you advising them to stick to their schoolwork instead or use social media to display pictures of that sugar daddy so these relationships can stop. If your friend is having unprotected sex, you should be telling them to condomise. Be in control of your life. Be conscious and deliberate about how you live your life,’ he said.
Dlamini also called for free education. ‘It is your right to be educated. But for many, getting a tertiary education is too expensive. But we also can’t be a generation that always expects hand-outs. We need to educate ourselves in order to create jobs and facilitate change. Education should be used for the greater good.’
Said Gumbi: ‘We are not on the same level yet as developed countries in terms of technologically-driven education. For instance, teachers are still using blackboards instead of projectors and laptops for notes. This should change.’
Raising the question of whether schools are afraid of the racism conversation, Gumbi argued that the issue of racism should be incorporated into Life Orientation curriculums.
‘Without the introduction of deliberate discussions in schools and formal efforts for the poorest children to get into the best schools, we risk wasting another school cycle of learners who could be the change agents to our openly bigoted society. Where the system does not work, a more deliberate effort must be made to lead our society into the one our generation demands,’ said Gumbi.
Comparing the youth of 1976 to the current youth, Dlamini said: ‘As Black people, we are still fighting for restoration of our respect and dignity. The vision and dream remains the same. We should challenge the status quo. The youth has the responsibility to make a change. It starts with you.’