The month of June has come to be accepted as one set aside to celebrate youth
in the country. This has been done in recognition of the brave face the youth of
1976 put up to stand up against unjust laws of the time among which was that
almost all subjects at secondary school be taught through the medium of
The young people took it upon themselves to make a statement and show the
Vorster regime that young black people were not to be used guinea pigs. They
would not accept a situation where some language was being forced down their
throats.Adults from different walks of life such as the church, politics and
ordinary South Africans had indicated their discontent over the matter.Even
school boards under the jurisdiction of the department of Bantu Education had
shown their unhappiness about the matter yet the Vorster government just felt:
dis goed genoeg vir hulle.
Most people these days are called the lost generation because they boycotted
Afrikaans teaching, some fled the country and paid the highest price by dying
there while others were fortunate enough to survive all the negative stuff and
are still about.While it is not helpful to bewail the past and cry over spilt
milk, the time is ripe and nigh that the youth today pick up their cudgels,
stand up and speak out about issues that affect them.
They should commemorate rather than celebrate that fateful day June 16.They
should come up with projects they intend to mount to remember and honour the
Tsietsi Mashininis of the time. The day has dawned where their children walk
side by side with their white counterparts.The day is here where the integrity
of black children is not measured by the colour of their skins but by the
quality of their deeds; our youth can therefore not stand aside and say are
Although there isn’t enough to write home about regarding the quality of life
or education these days, of essence is the willingness by government to provide
equal education for all. The youth must take advantage of the preparedness of
those in authority to extend relevant services to them.
The issue of economic freedom for the youth is undeniably a matter to grapple
with.Unemployment among the youth is sky rocketing; this even among those who
hold degrees and diplomas. The reflection is not on the youth per se but on
government for not making it possible for the youth to find jobs.The issue is
invariably that they do not have the necessary experience.The question arises
however how one can have experience if they have not had chance to work before.
The finger points again to the system of education even at universities.
These institutions churn out untried and untested products because while in
training or at university no arrangements were made with the relevant work sites
to take in these students as interns.
In teaching during our days it was called “practice teaching”. By the time
the individual completed principals were looking forward to have him or her at
their school.A similar arrangement could be struck with industries that students
at universities go for internship during their holidays.It will be under these
circumstances that the youth will show their capabilities or otherwise. The
National Youth Development Agency whose main brief is to strive for the creation
of economic independence among young people has yet to catch fire.
Let us hope that with the new board about to be established they would have
learnt from their predecessors that any further delays will make the youth even
more restive.The “ticking time bomb” has to be defused before it explodes as was
the case in 1976.
The youth have to be taken seriously and not in a partisan manner where only
those aligned to this or that political organisation are being catered for. It
has to be borne in mind that young people in their modest way made sacrifices
which cannot and should not be wished away.
The future of this country depends on the contribution the youth can make.
Their potential has to be harnessed and developed to ensure an economically
stable South Africa.