It has been documented that President Zuma has in the past emphasized that the government is doing its best to empower the youth by creating job opportunities, training and funding support through programs by the Nation Youth Development Agency (NYDA), and War on Leaks and National Rural Youth Service Corps(NARYSEC) to name a few. However, we face a more serious and argent problem at the margin of youth development.
Issues of access to education are not only limited to free education. Access to education is also an issue of inadequate flow of information form institutions of higher learning and the government to high school leaners and the youth. A swift and informal research I conducted in a few schools (seven schools) in Soweto revealed that about 80% of the learners in all the schools combined had no or very little information about registration fees, NSFAS and course outlines for instance. I have found that because of the lack of inadequate information in high schools, leaners face one of their biggest challenges in the struggle for access to tertiary education. It has now become the responsibility of NGOs and NPOs to collect and provide high school leaners with information of how to go about gaining access to higher education without the help of government at times.
Organizations such as Hill Youth Centre are one of the platforms on which these leaners can depend for critical information. The Organization is a Non-Profit Organization under Christ Hill International Church which has the primary role of providing valuable information, tutoring and resources such computers and internet access to help leaners and the general youth from a previously disadvantaged background. This church based organization helps individuals apply online for any enrolment in any tertiary institution, bursaries, internships and other opportunities. Hill Youth Centre does not only enable leaners and the youth to gain some access to education, it also provides computer skills and training in programs such as Microsoft office.
Twenty-three years into democracy has enabled us to reflect on various issues including socio-economic challenges faced by the majority of South Africans and possible strategies which would be essential in addressing such socio-economic challenges. At the center of these strategies is education, many of us would strongly come to an agreement that education is at the heart of the struggle for economic, social and other forms of emancipation for the Black majority of this country. Our historical being exists within a context of racial, economic, educational, social and political segregation. Our history illustrates a people, Black people, without much educational opportunities, lack of political and governing representation at the heart of resource distribution centers and very little hope for self-realization.
Even though it has been evident that the Apartheid regime left South Africa with less to build on, the “democratic” government has for years perpetuated the struggles of Black people in the country particularly the youth, the only people capable of changing or improving for the better the capitalist aligned economic and social systems previously enforced by the murderous regime of Apartheid. To be clear, this government is doing very little to equip young people with one vital resource for emancipation of any kind, free education.
For now, we shall depend on organizations such as the one Sibusiso has initiated in his community and hope for the success of a Black child. Access to information essential to gaining entry into higher education is imperative in local Black communities and its significance has been demonstrated by the work done by organizations such as Hill Youth Centre.