The Effects of Intergenerational Poverty and Unemployment on South African Township Youth

The Effects of Intergenerational Poverty and Unemployment on South African Township Youth

Ndwakhulu Stephen Tshishonga (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9388-1.ch001


Young people throughout the world are an afterthought of policy and program interventions. In Africa, and particularly in third world nations, the irony of sloganizing youth as the cream or the future of the nation exists alongside tendencies and behaviors that impede their development towards being responsible and full citizens which rather aggravates youth underdevelopment and marginalization. It is an undisputed fact that young people have been the vanguard of liberatory struggles that resulted in dismantling colonialism and apartheid. On one hand, the chapter examines strategies adopted to overcome intergenerational poverty by using narratives (daily experiences of youth) of post-apartheid South Africa. On the other hand, the chapter highlights the uncertainties and frustrations of living in a democratic South Africa, with its failure to open up opportunities for their socio-economic growth, the apartheid discriminatory system, and survival.
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Young people have been the vanguard of the liberation struggles that resulted into dismantling colonialism and apartheid governance systems in Africa (Mafema & Tshishonga, 2011). In Africa, and particularly in the third world nations, the irony of sloganising youth as the cream or the future of the nation exists alongside tendencies and behaviours that impede their development towards being responsible and full citizens, which aggravates youth underdevelopment and marginalisation. Youth sacrifices and their radical involvement not only rob them of their youth, but also deny them golden opportunities to advance themselves in areas of education, economics and welfare (Mafema & Tshishonga, 2011). South Africa is no exception. It is therefore not surprising that with the advent of democracy in Africa and in particular, South Africa, policies and programmes have been developed with the primary aim of restoring young people’s dignity and advancement for their development.

At a national level, attempts have been made to address youth related challenges that have seen the introduction of the 1996 National Youth Commission, an enactment of the National Youth Development Policy (2002-2007) and the establishment of the National Youth Development Agency in 2008 (De Lannoy et al, 2015, p. 28). Among the functions assigned, these formations were to mainstream youth development within government departments, initiating, designing, coordinating, evaluating and monitoring programmes aimed at uplifting and empowering young people. The absence of youth engagement in policy development and implementation compounded by fragmentation and lack of co-ordination, gave birth to the National Youth Policy (2015-2020). The National Youth Policy (2015-2020) is anchored on five pillars geared towards enabling youth development: 1) economic inclusion and participation; 2) education, skills and training; 3) health and well-being; 4) nation-building and social cohesion; and 5) building a youth machinery for efficient delivery and responsibilities. Despite these policies, youth are still faced with deprivation and marginalisation which manifest themselves through the continuity of poverty, unemployment, and a lack of educational and economic opportunities for them to lead a decent life (Mlatsheni, 2010).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Township: Is a residential area created by the apartheid government for black people in the outskirts of South African cities.

Township Youth: These are youth who reside in the township and are often deprived of employment opportunities and other basic amenities due the legacy of apartheid especially Bantu education.

Bantu Education: It was an apartheid system of education also known as gutter or inferior education passed through 1953 Bantu education Act and it was designed for black students to be laborers as opposed to quality education offered for white learners or students.

Youth Poverty: That is the type of poverty that is visible among young people and it renders them vulnerable to challenges relating to education and employment.

Intergenerational Poverty and Unemployment: Poverty and unemployment transmitted from adult generation to younger generation due to economic marginalization, lack of skills transfer and low education level.

Youth: An age category of population (14-24 or 15-35) that are still in the transition to adulthood and are often defined by their fearless sprit of radicalism.

National Youth Policy: Is a policy introduced by the South African democratic government with the sole purpose of addressing youth related challenges.

Unemployed Graduates: These are higher education graduates in different fields of study who due to lack of labour demanded skills or slow economic growth are unable secure a job.

Youth Entrepreneurship: Is a process whereby creative and innovative ideas are transformed into enterprises initiated and managed by young people with the primary purpose of addressing their socio-economic challenges such as poverty and unemployment.

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