June the month of the youth is here. Never in my life have I ever been conscious about the significant of this month as I am of it this year. This could be because the year has been very challenging for the country’s youth and youth leaders. Just to recap, this year ANCYL leaders have found themselves at the in such a rap that those who are left to lead are not sure where how to proceed without the vocal forefront runners. Other youth bodies like the NYDA have been accused of looking out for their own and nobody takes them seriously anymore. In a way this has exposed the fear I have always harboured regarding the lack of high calibre youth leadership with a clear vision of what the needs of the youth are in 2012.
Those of us who have heard about the class of 1976 and their bravery find ourselves wishing for similar heroes today. As history teaches us, their quest for a decent education for every South African student is the main reason we are commemorating June 16th.
Exactly 36 years later millions of South African student find themselves relying on civil society bodies to force government through court battles to face its obligation of providing the basic norms of a standard education.
The increasing litigation against education officials at the low levels of education follows a successful action by Equal Education to compel government and Limpopo’s provincial department to provide text books to school kids in that province.The latest one is the Eastern Cape over the department’s failure to fill teaching posts. At the height of these court battles we are missing the youth leaders’ voices elected into authority to speak out against the national crisis that our education is turning into.
Higher learning institutions are not without challenges. Apart from the controversial administration policies at some of our university, education remains the one most important tool that will help our government curb staggering unemployment levels among the youth. Sadly the very same poverty, that makes many wish to escape its hold, is the stumbling block in the way of getting that education. Even though it represents a way out of a life of doom, the reality is that education is just too expensive.
At the end of last year Cape Peninsula University of Technology provided a ray of hope for students how have completed its graduate courses but still have outstanding fees. The letters were mailed encouraging those who have successfully completed their studies to apply to a bursary fund that was made available by the Minister of High Education.
Most graduates who could not afford to settle their accounts after successfully completing their studies just cannot seem to crack it into the work force. After a process of filling out forms after forms, and submitting one or another document, the process was frozen just before payment was supposed to have been made. Half a year later with no explanation, students were advised to start making arrangement to pay their fees. The muted reaction from the SASCO, PASMA and other student representative organisations just prove what I most fear. South African youth are on their own.