Youth Development Through Participation in Decision Making: A Case of South Africa – Development and Participative Decision Making

Youth Development Through Participation in Decision Making: A Case of South Africa – Development and Participative Decision Making

Sharon Thabo Mampane (University of South Africa, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9388-1.ch003


The purpose of this chapter is to argue that there is a need for youth development for participation in decision makings of the country. Programs for youth development should be geared towards changing the behavior of the youth from undesirable to desirable conduct. This chapter follows a qualitative approach in understanding and explaining in detail what youth development and participation in decision making in the society, entails. Data were collected via literature reviews on youth development and participation and on factors contributing to the importance of how laws, most notably laws on youth participation in matters, concern them. These factors are important, but key to developing the youth for participative decision-making and for ensuring that children's right to participate is implemented. The aim of this paper is to ensure that the youth are involved as partners in communities because they are deemed to be assets in the decision-making process of the country.
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This chapter highlights issues on the development of the youth through participation in decision-making for empowerment as future leaders in South Africa. Youth development entails mainstreaming youth issues into society, and, facilitating youth development activities within all sectors of society (National Youth Policy, 2015). Communities and the government should help the youths to develop knowledge and skills required to obtain technologically sophisticated jobs, which are an emerging part of the global economy (Israel, Beaulieu, and Hartless, 2001). Government committed to advance youth development and made extensive consultations with diverse stakeholders, including the youth, to give input on how young people can be developed to contribute to important issues that affect their lives. Evidence shows that policies and programmes designed after consultation with users are more likely to be effective. By using youth participation it is more likely to get it right the first time and time and money are not wasted on services young people don't want to use (Jacquez, Vaughn, and Wagner, 2013). Research also indicates that such participatory approaches to development, can ensure greater efficiency and effectiveness and contribute to processes of democratisation and empowerment (Wong, Zimmerman, Parker, 2010).

Participation and involvement of the youth in decision making requires an understanding of the process of participatory development, crucial for the youth, community development practitioners and other stakeholders. Stakeholders’ understanding of the socio-economic conditions surrounding the youth may ensure that a positive development programme sustainable for youth development is maintained. Youth development for participatory decision makings should enable the youth to address challenges of adolescence and adulthood and to achieve their full potential (National Planning Commission, 2012). Youth’s have a right to participate in decisions that affect them and these are articulated across several international human rights conventions such as the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights; article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Youth to participation. (Collins, 2016). Youth related issues are high on the list of governments globally, hence the laws advanced to make provision for the participation of children in judicial and administrative proceedings (Jacquez, Vaughn and Wagner, 2013). The previous South African National Youth Policy on youth development covered the period 2009-2014, and currently the new National Youth Policy (NYP) builds up on the first NYP (2015-2020), and addresses youth participation in challenges they face in South Africa.

In 2017 the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) was established to develop the youth through participative decision-making and to enable them to tackle challenges they face in the nation. Currently, there is minimal research on the inclusion and development of the youth in decision making, in both the literature and in practice. Most studies done on youth development are based on the need for more programmes that seek to change the behaviour of the youth from undesirable to desirable conduct (Lerner, Almerigi, Theokas, Phelps, Geostdottir, Naudeau, Jelicic et al., 2010) and address negative stereotypical policies that assume that young people can never contribute to the common good (Zeldin, McDaniel, Topitez & Calvert, 2000). Chege (2011), indicates that South African youth development and involvement in decision making is not prioritised because communities consider them a risk to society. Mostly strict decisions on what is right or wrong, are handed down to them by government programmes, adults and guardians, because of such negative stereotypes. Assumptions are that young people are unable or unwilling to contribute to the common good, and these are also sustained by public policies (Zeldin, McDaniel, Topitez & Calvert, 2000).

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