Youth data reveals how unequal we still are in SA

PROTEST: The first step needed to  address issues of unemployment and poverty is  for the black youth to shed   the victim mentality and take control of their destiny, says the writer
PHoto: Antonio Muchave

One lives in a plush palatial home‚ and attends a private school that costs more than R100‚000 per year. The other lives in a shack with no electricity or running water and attends a school where the matric pass rate is below 50%.

That South Africa’s youth face highly unequal conditions and future prospects is nothing new — we are one of the most unequal societies on earth.

But now‚ a new portal launched on Friday by the University of Cape Town‚ is giving insight into the lives of youth – and not just as they differ between the stereotypes of rich and poor.

The Youth Explorer Portal is the richest mine of data on youth ever seen in this country‚ and gives stats on different aspects of health‚ education‚ employment and living conditions across all nine provinces and across all wards within those.

By taking the “camera” of our country’s varied social landscape up closer‚ it becomes easier to see where the problems lie and what interventions are most needed where.

For example‚ on average‚ around 70% of our youth across the country from age 16 to 17 have completed grade 9 or higher.

On closer inspection‚ however‚ through the portal we see that in North West Province‚ it is only 65% whereas in Gauteng it jumps right up to 83%.

Therefore‚ there isn’t a “one size fits all” education intervention for the whole country.

In some cases‚ the stats show a staggering difference in living conditions especially when you look at ward level rather than provincial level.

For example‚ 10% of our youth live in shacks‚ but in some areas of Johannesburg‚ it is only 0.7% and in another ward not far away‚ it jumps to a staggering 35%.

The data‚ therefore‚ shows the minutiae of our sweeping inequality problems‚ but also the variations within those divides.

Emily Harris‚ of the Poverty and Inequality Initiative at UCT which is a key driver of the project‚ said: “Those responsible for implementing policies in local communities need clear facts and numbers on the specific needs of young people in the areas where they live.”

According to Dr Ariane de Lannoy‚ also of the PII: “The lived realities of youth living in Soweto‚ for instance‚ are not the same as they are in Inanda or Khayelitsha.”

Tanya Farber – Tiso Black Star Group

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