Children's research report calls for coordinated body to implement policy

UCT graduate school of business has been hosting a gathering today focused on youth development, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Soweto uprising and remember the role of youth in our struggle for freedom

The event is being jointly hosted by the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which falls within the GSB, and UCT’s Poverty and Inequality Initiative.

Researcher Dr Ariane de Lannoy is one of the speakers reflecting on current efforts to uplift the young people of South Africa. She is a sociologist and senior researcher at the Poverty and Inequality Initiative, and has a special interest in youth transitions and decision-making in post-apartheid South Africa.

Last year she was lead editor of South African Child Gauge, a report monitoring the situation of children in SA and in particular the realisation of their rights as enshrined in our constitution.

Despite many freedoms 'born free' children have in South Africa today, the results of the report show there is still a lot of work to be done.

6 out of 10 young people live in households were the monthly income is less than R650 per person.

Dr Ariane de Lannoy, sociologist and senior researcher at the Poverty and Inequality Initiative

But as these children grow older, their child support grants come to an end.

The one financial support that is available for them ends abruptly.

Dr Ariane de Lannoy, sociologist and senior researcher at the Poverty and Inequality Initiative

She says it is a difficult age for anyone anywhere in the world.

It's a time when children become adolescents, and are expected to move through high school, into either higher education or the labour market. And we see that this simply does not happen for a large proportion of the young people in South Africa..

Dr Ariane de Lannoy, sociologist and senior researcher at the Poverty and Inequality Initiative

More children do have access to education in the current climate, but many of the schools available in lower income areas cannot offer the same quality of teaching and learning as in the higher income areas. This results in education and skills levels remaining low in the country.

But she says children today on average complete about 10 years of education compared to their parents who were completing about 5 or 6 years, and grandparents generation only about 3 years of education.

The unemployment rate among people 15 to 34 years of age is at the moment about 34%, while the national average is 26%.

Dr Ariane de Lannoy, sociologist and senior researcher at the Poverty and Inequality Initiative

She says the low level of skills is one of the key drivers of unemployment in the youth market today. The other factor is the way the labour market is structured. Where demand is mostly for high skill levels and experience, younger people are automatically at a disadvantage.

Dr Ariane de Lannoy says much of their work is to encourage other streams of education over and above just the academic stream. Government is focusing more on vocational and technical training.

She says we need a more comprehensive and concrete implementation plan in order to see results, otherwise these remain empty promises.

The Child Gauge is promoting the need for a central co-coordinating body that has the authority to steer the implementation of the policy, and to hold other departments accountable.

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