South Africa: Government should be fixated on youth employment – Pityana

Unisa’s former head says learners should be paid to stay in school.

The preoccupation of government “day and night” should be on the 55% of young people under 30 who are unemployed, with many of them never having been employed, says Barney Pityana, the retired principal and vice chancellor of the University of South Africa.

“If [as government] I get nothing else right, this is what I must get right yesterday,” he told the Tshwane Leadership Summit on Wednesday.

Pityana was critical of the lack of imagination in government and questioned why there was not a major government initiative right now to address “this ticking time bomb”.

He added that if he was in government, he would be making a big announcement that addressing youth unemployment was the priority.

Pityana said this would involve raising dedicated capital from all businesses for this initiative, with “some of it voluntary but if it doesn’t come, by other means”.

Pass a law if necessary

He said this capital would be used to ensure, even if a law had to be passed, that every young person who was not at school, university or working, would be in a training programme for 12 months where they would get supported and receive incentives.

Money would also be made available for all kinds of training centres countrywide and when they finished their training in 12 months’ time, there would be a fund to enable them to have start-up businesses, he said.

“All over the country there will be young people well engaged in training and learning and whatever is happening so they don’t just stay on the streets or are lying about,” he said.

‘Pay learners to stay in school’

Pityana said he would also do what former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher did in paying young people of 18 and 19 years old to stay in school for another two years to get further training.

“The point I really want to make is that if you have leadership with imagination, you wouldn’t just be stuck in the old way of doing things and simply say that this is the way the economic forces are actually working and therefore there is no other way.

“That is not good enough for a country in an environment like ours. Young people in our country are entitled to expect better of us,” he said.

He pointed out that there is no other country that had an unemployment rate of 25% and retained the same government.

He said this was part of the dilemma in South Africa, which did not make sense at all, where the government does not deliver for the people at the level where it matters and yet these people still vote for the same government.

Tragic ethical gap

Turning to corruption, Pityana said there was a “tragic gap” in South Africa in that there was nobody at a high level who did not hate corruption but what they did and the way they acted was at a very different level.

“Even those who are right in the thick of it, they will tell you – and will probably mean it – that they hate corruption. It’s like seeing Ace Magashule [ANC secretary-general] saying that we the ANC have been working so hard against corruption and we say: ‘Ha! Who is talking?’”

The reference to Magashule is related to various allegations of corruption that have been levelled against him.

Pityana stressed that people have to be able to be critical of themselves and capable of having a critical insight of human conduct, including their own.

“If you don’t have a critical sense and the courage to respond to your own critical intuition and insight, you will never be able to see anything that is wrong,” he said.

Pityana referred to the extent to which good men and women for some reason had been able to capitulate to what was obviously a crooked programme.

He said those who know Brian Molefe – one-time CEO of the Public Investment Corporation, Transnet and Eskom – would never have expected a few years ago that he would be an agent for a corrupt project.

Molefe has been linked to corruption involving the Gupta family.

Pityana said Zuma boasted that he never went to school but his power over educated people would “put all of us to shame”.

“He has been able to manipulate very educated and knowledgeable people way beyond his own intelligence and education.

“What kind of country is that? How can we have a country where at the end of the day educated people cannot act like intelligent people?

“That is something that needs further examination,” he added, “because I’m no longer able to confidently say that educated people, on account of their education and knowledge, are able to distinguish and to discern right from wrong, and to know the consequences of what they are doing our country.”

Source Money Web

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All African Youth Platform

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