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At the time of South Africa’s transition to democracy, hopes were high for children born at that time. Today, more than two decades into democracy, this group of children has come of ’coming of age’ in a society where, despite the many promises of a better life for all, racial, class and gender inequalities continue to shape their lives, dreams and opportunities. 

In its endeavours to engage meaningfully with the key challenges facing South Africa, the youth focus of the PII is a response to the need for evidence-based interventions that aim to empower youth and to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. PII therefore makes concerted effort to bring together research, policy and practice in collaborative moments of knowledge exchange and creation. 

To read more about our Youth Projects, select the relevant links in the menu.

Our youth projects

Youth Explorer: Indicators on youth well-being

A collaborative project drawing on a number of data sources to develop a dashboard of local-level indicators that measure key dimensions of youth well-being in South Africa.

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Systematic overview of youth unemployment

Aiming for a multi-disciplinary approach, UCT’s PII and the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Social Development in Africa led a dedicated team of researchers to conduct a systematic overview on the drivers of, and policies and interventions related to, youth unemployment. The work culminated in a comprehensive and integrated theory of change for youth employment which has been translated into policy-oriented documents. Senior staff collaborated to support junior researchers or post-graduate students in producing the overview, synthesis and final reports. 

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Understanding youth's lived realities

This Western Cape-based study gathered, from young people’s own viewpoints, a deeper understanding of their daily lives, including their aspirations, agency and available support structures. The aim of this study was to begin to build a more nuanced body of evidence that could help inform the provincial government's youth-related policies and interventions. 


2015 youth-focused Child Gauge

The South African Child Gauge® is an annual publication of UCT's Children's Institute. It provides a snap-shot of the status of children in South Africa, and in particular monitors progress towards the realisation of their rights. Each year, the publication focuses on a major challenge affecting children’s well-being as a lens to critically analyse the position of children and the potential policy responses required. In 2015, the publication highlighted the precarious situation of children as they transition into young adulthood and the need for interventions that aim to support youth development. The focus on the youth stage (15 to 24-year-olds) was informed by a life-course understanding of development. 

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Yazi: A youth information portal

With the aim to help young people in their quest for information, the PII – in partnership with UCT’s Children’s Institute, IkamvaYouth and the DG Murray Trust – have developed 'Yazi', an easily accessible information portal that visually maps the pathways through the educational system – from grade 9 onwards – into higher education and into the world of work. It is meant to provide young people with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their educational or career trajectories. After an initial pilot stage, it is envisaged that the portal will be evaluated and the outcomes of the evaluation translated into policy-relevant material.  

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Youth policy dialogues

Since 2014, the PII has organised – or partnered on the organisation of – a number of youth-specific policy dialogues. Those events brought together policymakers, researchers and civil society members to engage on what sort of policies would be most effective in steering the country towards a new and more inclusive development path for its youth.

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