By Neelam Rahim
Young people in South Africa may be forgiven for believing it is aluta continua – or the struggle continues – 46 years after the Soweto uprisings. Young activists are demanding that government prioritise creating green and sustainable jobs. The government has promised millions of jobs over the past decades but has failed to achieve the targets it set for itself. What has changed in the circumstances of the youth of 1976 and 2022?
Radio Islam discusses with the Executive Director of Amnesty International, Shenilla Mohamed and the South African Muslim Network’s chairperson Dr Faisal Suliman.
South African young people are called born-frees, living in a democratic South Africa. But they face massive challenges, one being a lack of equal quality education. Is it not ironic that, as in 1976, education remains a burning issue?
Shenilla says, “I think it’s extremely sad that over 600 children on that day fighting for their right to a quality education. And today the quality of education still very much depends on your skin colour. We are very much in that struggle where the majority of black children in this country and previously disadvantaged communities still do not have a quality education. This is not the only but one of the major hindrances to finding good sustainable quality jobs.”
Unemployment is rife, with young people holding University degrees standing at intersections pleading for jobs.
“The situation is pretty desperate. It’s quite ironic as I see patients who are not born free who could speak a bit of English despite the necessity for an indigenous language.
Due to a whole host of factors in the education system, born-frees are not conversant in any manner or form,” says Dr Suliman.
Shenilla also says, “The reality is that the South African state is the main duty to provide children with education. If you look at the apartheid government, they had a plan where they knew what they were doing. What we see in South Africa now is the state doesn’t actually have a plan and if they do have a plan they do not follow it. Looking at the beginning of the independence of South Africa they have been blundering continuously when it comes to education.”