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6 Shocking Truth About South Africa’s Youth


6 shocking truths about South Africa’s youth

South African youths often bare the brunt of a fluctuating economic system that leads to unemployment and lack of education but they also represent some of the brightest stars in SA’s future. Here are some youth facts you may not have known

June is the official month dedicated to the youth of South Africa. They represents a large portion of the population and yet are still underrepresented in government and many spheres of society. South African youth, in many ways, have been responsible for igniting the change we see today.

In 1976, high school youths took to the streets in protest of the apartheid government, which led to the eventual end of the oppressive system decades later. The #FeesMustFall movement started by university students also led to the government’s decision to make education free for all. These are just some of the attributes that have contributed to SA’s robust democratic system.

Despite a powerful history of SA’s youth, the ages of 16-35 still remain the most vulnerable in society living below the poverty line with little access to resources including education and jobs.

Here are six facts you may not have known about SA’s youth:

  1. Youth graduate unemployment rate has increased in 2019

The youth aged 15–24 years are the most vulnerable in the South African labour market as the unemployment rate among this age group was 55.2% in the first quarter of 2019. Among graduates in this age group, the unemployment rate was 31% during this period compared to 19.5% in the fourth quarter of 2018 – an increase of 11.4 percentage points quarter-on-quarter. However, the graduate unemployment rate is still lower than the rate among those with other educational levels, meaning that education is still the key to these young people’s prospects improving in the South African labour market.

  1. More than half of the youth have no money to pay for their tuition

More than half (or 51%) of youth aged 18–24 claimed that they did not have the financial means to pay for their tuition. Furthermore, 18% of those aged 18–24 who were not attending educational institutions indicated that their poor academic performance prevented them from participating. This is according to the “Higher Education and Skills in South Africa” report released by Statistics South Africa.

  1. 51% of youth aged 20-24 have completed matric/matric equivalent or higher

 Half of the youth population in SA have completed matric while 56.1% of youth have attended an educational institution.

  1. The burden of unemployment is concentrated amongst the youth

According to the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) results released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), a decline in employment (down by 237 000) and an increase in unemployment (up by 62 000) in the first quarter of 2019, compared to the fourth quarter of 2018, led to a decline in the labour force participation rate, which is now standing at 59.3%. Youth account for 63.4% of the total number of unemployed persons. Almost 4 in every 10 young people in the labour force did not have a job, with the unemployment rate within this group at 39.6% in the first quarter of 2019. Just under 30% of the youth have jobs and about half of them (48.8%) participate in the labour market.

  1. Half the population of youth in South Africa have access to the internet via cellphones

55.2% of youth in South Africa have access to the internet via cellphones. The percentage decreases with different means of accessing the internet such as from a learning institution, internet café or community centre.

  1. More than half of SA’s youth live in income-poor households

According to the 2011 census, 62.2% of South African youth are living in income-poor households and the majority of those are black and colored youths.

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