HSRC and UCT together with key youth stakeholders make inputs into draft policy
On 16 February 2015, the Human Sciences Research Council in partnership with the Children’s Institute, the Southern African Labour and Development Research Unit and the Poverty and Inequality initiative (all at the University of Cape Town) held a workshop in order to consider the draft National Youth Policy.
There were 98 participants in attendance, from 9 academic institutions, 38 non-governmental organisations with youth interests and 3 government departments. Appendix 1 gives their names, organisations and a contact email address. All contributed to the input from which this submission is made, although the combined submission was drafted by Professor Sharlene Swartz, Dr Ariane De Lannoy, Dr Cecil Mlatsheni and Professor Monde Makiwane.
Recognising the strengths of the policy
We welcome the draft policy for youth development for 2014-2019 (or is it 2015-2020, since both dates are used in the draft policy) in shared recognition of the fact that youth, and the often dire situations they find themselves in, require a firm commitment from government and development actors to bring about change in both individual lives and at the macro level of economic development. Given the size of the youth cohort in South Africa, there is enormous potential for youth to contribute to their own well-being and to that of South Africa at large. Without targeted interventions many will continue to live in poverty, de facto excluded from the socio-economic and political processes of transformation that are key objectives of national Government.
The policy describes various forms of marginalisation and the multiple ways in which youth are excluded with a strong and appropriate focus on economic marginalisation through high levels of youth unemployment. We especially appreciate the fact that the document, at the onset, recognises that:
- We, as a society, need to move away from a deficiency-oriented understanding of youth to one that sees youth as agents in their own environments, who need to be empowered to enable them to create the kinds of lives that they would value for themselves:
The NYP recognises that young people are not passive but are the champions of their own development and need space to actively participate in their own growth and in the development of members of society. (p. 3)
- ‘Youth’ in the SA definition refers to the broad group of young people age 14 to 35. The policy reminds us that this is not a homogenous group: we need to keep in mind various socio-economic, gender, and age differences when developing policy and implementation plans.
The policy sets itself an ambitious goal:
The National Youth Policy 2014-2019 takes into account progress made since 1994, builds on the success of previous policies, further articulates the youth specific proposals of the NDP, strengthens existing interventions, introduces new ones, sheds those that have not worked, enhances the quality of services rendered, extends coverage and increases impact. It attempts to tackle the gaps and stubborn challenges needing new approaches. (p. 5)
However, while we applaud the efforts of the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation to develop this highly important document, we wish to express our concern over a large number of gaps, problems, and inconsistencies within the policy. The bulk of this submission therefore addresses these by making three overarching recommendations to make sure the policy can live up to the goals it sets itself as well as offering specific comments on each of the substantive areas the youth policy addresses.
The full draft National Youth Policy document is available for download below.
- National Youth Policy Submission in pdf format.
Prof. Sharlene Swartz, Human Sciences Research Council, email@example.com 021 466 7874
Dr Ariane De Lannoy, University of Cape Town, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Cecil Mlatsheni, University of Cape Town, Cecil.Mlatsheni@uct.ac.za
Prof. Monde Makiwane, Human Sciences Research Council, email@example.com