This year’s Youth Month coincides with the commemoration of South Africa’s 25 years of freedom and democracy, hence the theme “25 Years of Democracy: A Celebration of Youth Activism”.

Every year on 16 June, South Africa commemorates the 1976 Soweto Uprising to pay tribute to learners who stood up against the apartheid government.

Observed as a public holiday, the day serves as a reminder that young people in the country were at the forefront of our struggle. It also provides us with an opportunity to take stock of the strides we have made in addressing issues facing the youth.

During this month of youth, government and its agencies such as the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) are hosting a number of engagements, including youth expos, dialogues and youth entrepreneur hubs to showcase opportunities available to young people.

The Chatsworth Tabloid spoke to a group of remarkable youth in the Shallcross community who are doing admirable and outstanding work in Ward 71. They spoke about the problems presently facing youth and ways they feel they can tackle these issues. Kershin Pillay, chairperson of the Shallcross Youth Movement (Shayomo) said: “The issues I feel that are affecting young people are suicide, depression and lack of motivation. I also feel that people from our Ward are isolated in a sense of they are close-minded. They don’t socialise with other race groups. I feel we should push more programmes promoting unity and diversity not only within our Ward but in every community.”

Nikita Reddy, a volunteer in the Ward 71 disaster relief camp said youth today were currently facing numerous issues such as substance abuse, unemployment, family problems, peer pressure and bullying.
“We need to introduce sport and recreational programmes back in school like we used to in the past and create a competitive platform for schools to compete and develop a sense of patriotism in school and the community. We can also start more social clubs for youth to talk about their issues and help each other positively. We need more youth to volunteer in our community by assisting with programmes such as clean-ups. Basic educational camps will teach other kids around them basic language and math skills so that we can create a circle of free flowing knowledge to each other,” said Reddy.

Adeline Naidoo, another volunteer at the Ward 71 disaster relief camp said: “The youth of today in my opinion are faced with a lot of issues but the two main items that stand out for me within my community are unemployment and drug abuse.

“I would tackle unemployment by educating youth and adults to become entrepreneurs by teaching them the skills to manage and operate their own businesses. This would be the first step in creating a more independent and driven generation for example, substance farming and selling to the community. Secondary schools can be in partnership with businesses to know the needs required in the working world that needs to be imparted to Grade 12 learners.

“Teenagers and young adults need to be educated about the repercussions of drugs and the outcomes of the addiction of drugs through drug awareness roadshows.

“Youth clubs can be created that help youth deal with the social pressures of society, where they can share the problems of life and help them focus on their future because they are the next generation.” Volunteer, Andile Mayhompi said: “The state of the economy in South Africa is very hostile on its youth.

One of the challenges facing South Africa is youth unemployment. Like many countries around the world, SA’s youth unemployment is high. This creates a huge concern due to the absence of jobs or any legal method to generate a living income. Young people resort to lifestyle activities that hinder success and progression.
“Alcohol, drug abuse and high levels of pregnancy has become an inherited norm in our societies. Large talent and skills are buried in the bodies of young people whose lives have long been captured and controlled by drugs and alcohol.” He said that the lack of entrepreneurial skills, business funding and business inductions are few of the challenges that stand in the way of economic growth of young people.

“Education is equally a challenge. A limited number of young people are able to enroll into institutions of higher learning. Some complete their qualifications but remain unemployed as the education obtained allows one to be employed and not create employment based on the skills obtained,” said Mayhompi.