The youth speak out – are you listening?

| September 3, 2010

Annually on 16 June we commemorate Youth Day, calling to mind the day in 1976 when school children marched against Bantu education and apartheid.


This year, it came close to coming and going unnoticed as the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament kicked off.

3Talk discussed issues of the day with the youth

Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu did something important to mark the occasion, however, inviting young people onto her popular television chat-show, 3Talk with Noeleen. She set the scene for the discussion
thus: “Young people today are savvier, evolved and gutsy and advanced than previous generations. Children today are all about information, technology and speed; fantasy is out and reality is in; books have been replaced with kindles and laptops are

the new exam pads. Never mind getting an A+, they want 3G. “We may be doing our utmost to give our children everything we think they need, but are we really listening to what they want? There’s no better way to mark this significant day than to find out what they do want – what the issues are that weigh on their minds, and how they feel about their country.”

Joburg Student Council reps remember the past and embrace the future

Noeleen’s first guests were representatives of the Johannesburg Student Council, high school students Stephanie van Straten (Mayor), Phumlani Nyamathe (Speaker) and Noluthando Malaza (Deputy Mayor). “We won’t be the youth for long. We
need to optimise this opportunity to make our voices heard. We need to let the nation know who we are and what we need in order to be the best we can be,” was Van Straten’s answer to the question: “What does Youth Day mean to you?”

Nyamathe felt strongly that the public holiday is a reminder of the struggle that was fought by the youth in 1976, which in turn should remind today’s young people that they have their own struggles to forge. These challenges are part of larger social problems, said Malaza. “Youth Day should remind us where we want to be, and how we need to create employment opportunities. The only way to do that is through education.”

Is education better today?

Pointing out that Malaza’s parents might very well have been caught up in the impact of student protests in the 1970s and 1980s, Noeleen wanted to know if she thought she was getting a better education today. “Most definitely,” was this confident
young woman’s answer. “Today we are not forced to study anything.” The discussion then moved to a comparison of generations. Van Straten suggested that today’s five-year-olds are the nation’s real powerhouses. “They have not had to fight for the right to question anything.

“But all school children must have the courage to stand up for their beliefs. We are learning for the future, being prepared to go out into the world and do whatever we want to do.”

Where are the role models?

Nyamathe’s opinion was that there’s an absence of role models for the youth. Malaza disagreed strongly: “We have plenty of role models, but we are looking for them in the wrong places. To my mind, Beyoncé – as a successful businesswoman – is a worthy role model. So is my mother. “The media glorifies the wrong people, and there are too many television shows dealing with gangsters and guns.”

On the question of leaders, Nyamathe opined that Zuma is generally a good role model. “We shouldn’t focus on the controversy that surrounded him. He now employs a good stance, promising to remove from public office those who are not doing their jobs.” All three Student Council representatives vocalised the urgent need to eradicate poverty and unemployment in South Africa. Nyamathe went further: “If I could change anything, I would change the way that government works. The Minister of Transport should be taking public transport daily, and the Minister of Health must take his family to state hospitals so that he can see exactly what the conditions are on the ground.”

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Category: Spring 2010 Edition

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