‘Youth in South Africa: Uncertain Transitions in a Context of Deprivation’

15 Sep 2014 - 10:45

At the time of South Africa’s transition to democracy, hopes were high for the cohort of children born at that particular moment in history. Today, twenty years into democracy, this group of children is “coming of age”. Despite the many promises of a “better life for all”, racial, class and gender inequalities continue to shape these young people’s lives, dreams and opportunities. Especially among previously disadvantaged groups, levels of school drop-out, un(der)employment and discouraged work seekers are high. The situation has again given rise to the labeling of South African youth as a threat to society – “a lost generation” or “a ticking time bomb” that needs to be “diffused”. But how much do we really know about the ways in which ordinary young South Africans experience their lives and engage with the structural forces impacting on them? How much of that understanding is taken into account when developing policies and interventions aimed at supporting youth development? 

In its endeavours to meaningfully engage with the challenges facing South Africa, The Poverty and Inequality Initiative of the University of Cape Town has identified the focus area of youth development as pertinent to meaningful change in this country.
The Colloquium will be a multi-disciplinary engagement with reflections from academics and practitioners alike, who are interested in the situation of youth in South Africa. It aims to deepen our understanding and analysis of young people’s experiences of life in deprivation, and of their halted or uneven transitions into adulthood. It also aims to create an opportunity for participants to reflect on the best ways for policy engagement going forward.

The colloquium particularly strives to contribute to the identification of policies, actions and programmes that can help reduce the levels of precariousness and un(der)employment among South Africa’s youth.