South Africa's Youth


SOUTH AFRICA'S YOUTH
Reflecting back on the tragedy that just occurred at Columbine High School in Denver Colorado and the generalizations being made about the U.S youth and the crisis that we are in and supposedly are experiencing ,I decided to research the youth crisis in South Africa.
There is at present no youth crisis as such. However young people find themselves in the midst of a range of crises that should be addressed urgently by the state and society.
South African youths as a category refers to South Africans between 15 and 30 years of age; they constitute 29,5% of the population, yet there is no comprehensive youth policy in place to attend to their needs. Most young people share common values of society - signs of radicalism and militarism are found in only a minority of youth.
Only a small percentage of South Africa's youth can be considered truly marginalized as the country's youth as a whole and therefore cannot be called a lost generation. Thirty-seven per cent of South Africa population were below the age of 15 in 1991. It can be compared with the average of 40% for similar countries in the world, less-developed countries averaging 44% and industrialized countries 23%. The composition of people between 15 and 30 years, comprised 29,5% of South Africa's population. Figures for racial categories indicate a total of approximately 8,3 million (75%) black, 1,4 m. (12%) white, 1,1 m. (10%) colored and 300 000 (3%) Asian youths in this group.
There are many problems for the South African Youth and some of the most challenging problems include family and community instability that leads to a wide range of other social problems for youth. The black family has been under enormous strain partly because of an education system that is not providing all youth with relevant and quality education. Economic stagnation, together with inadequate education, has resulted in high levels of unemployment and poverty, especially among women and blacks.
Demographic factors which continue to impact on the South African population and more specifically the youth. It has been estimated that by 1995, 50% of the age cohort 15 to 19 will live in urban areas.
The extent to which young people from the different racial and cultural groups have become isolated from one another, with the accompanying negative stereotypes, intolerance and racism.
A historical survey in the report leaves little doubt that South African youth have over the years been victims of political and socio-cultural crises. They have been subjected to poverty, blatant political manipulation, racial and other divisions that tore the country apart, and a lack of any systematic youth policy to attend to their needs. As a group, they have for many years been largely ignored by the leaders in control of their destiny. And yet, from the earliest decades of the century, they have attempted to assert themselves by forming youth organizations, by protesting against injustices and by insisting on a decent education and living conditions.
Unemployment has been a struggle for the South African Youth. Studies show roughly 42% of youth between the ages of 15 and 30 were unemployed. Young women were particularly disadvantaged. In the first place, they were less likely to be part of the labor force because large numbers were involved in unpaid domestic work. Secondly, they found it difficult to find employment while being involved in unpaid domestic work. Unemployment affects the unmarried, junior members of households more adversely than the other members. Unemployment is higher in the homelands and in urban areas that comprise squatter and informal settlements close to the major metropolitan area. It is however unclear as to whether unemployment is higher in rural or in urban areas. At the time, studies indicate 45% of the black, 12% of the white, 40% of the colored and 29% of the Asian youth were unemployed.
Family structure and living conditions play an important role. The core family has been seriously affected by social upheavals. Studies indicate that 22% of white, 20% of Asian, 32% of colored and 40 % of black families are currently headed by females. Stability may be found in nuclear, extended, compound or single-parent families. The extended kinship system among blacks and Asians seems to cushion the negative effects of disrupted nuclear family