Championing African Youth Policies for Global Development

“I heard from the young Canadians who were frustrated. Who told me that they couldn’t get a job because they don’t have work experience, and they couldn’t get work experience because they don’t have a job.” The youngest Prime Minister in the world, Justin Trudeau of Canada.

South Africa has, after two and a half decades, managed to make formidable transformational moves in its socio-economic developmental agenda. We must acknowledge the pace of change has been scarcely quick enough to keep up with most accelerating and economic challenges faced by our people. In seeking to meet both social and economic aspirations, the government is increasingly identifying the skills development as a crucial issue.

Looking across the landscape of Africa and beyond, an achievable pro-Youth policy and a doable master-plan that reflect the vision, voices and priorities of African youth are fundamental to building a peaceful, harmonious and prosperous continent of African solidarity, unity and commonality.

 Since approximately 60% of Africa’s population is below 35 years old, intentional investment in youth-focused initiatives could breed double-digit growth and genuine development across the continent. African Youth are the architects and engineers of a prosperous future under a new Africa. Therefore, they must be at the centre of leading Agenda 2063, UN Security Council Resolution 2250, SDGs 2030 and the African Renaissance. 

 Africa must pillar its aspiration, vision and vast potential predominantly on youth development through education, entrepreneurship, employment, empowerment, technology, agriculture and commerce.


In 2005, SA’s Education Minister said: “We cannot accept a view that says universities can blithely ignore society and its needs. That broader objective critically involves educating our students to become part of a socially committed and critical citizenry”.

That statement, made by the honourable minister, points to a larger question: what role should higher education (HE) play in contributing to South African socio-economic development?

South Africa is yet to reconcile and rationalise the role of the State in subsiding tertiary learning institutions, which will vary in history and needs, and the State governing them. Seemingly, we need a policy dialogue about whether tertiary learning institutions are entirely independent entities, at liberty to implement fees at their own discretion, change curriculum at their own discretion, or whether the State has to intervene, and if yes, ‘how’?

We’ve seen in other countries like the USA, Nigeria, Kenya, India and Brazil among others, have one kind of tertiary institution. The question we need to answer is, why is South Africa in a conundrum on universities about the notion of private versus public institutions?

We also need relevant education that will help address the current challenges we’re faced with in the country. This implies decolonising the current curriculum. Career guidance, Civic Education and Entrepreneurship should be integrated into the curriculum and start being taught at primary level so pupils know the constitution and how to create jobs. We need to bring back the National Service for the youth after high-school so the country can have compatriots and not necessarily soldiers.

Photo credit: Petros Sithole

Koketso Marishane writes as a concerned citizen

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