The law should be changed to make it an offence for school children found in the street during school hours, ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma suggested.
Speaking at a Young Communist League rally in Bushbuckridge on Saturday, Zuma said the youth must take education seriously.
He said he also believed that education should be made free and compulsory for all young people.
"Education is part and parcel of nation-building. It needs more attention and we must invest more in education," said Zuma.
Zuma also called on the youth to fight for economic freedom so that the economy can benefit all the people.
"It is painful to believe that we are free when we are economically exploited. The struggle cannot be over when we still have exploitation.
"The youth of South Africa played a role in the struggle for liberation. As we celebrate the achievements of past generations, the current generation is faced with even bigger challenges," Zuma said.
"You must have a word on how things are done even if you do not hold positions. It is your duty to defend the freedom that has been fought for by other generations," Zuma added.
Zuma said another huge challenge facing the youth today was the Aids epidemic.
Zuma's sentiments were reiterated by the SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande.
"South Africa is a free country with a colonial economy. The economy still remains in the hands of whites, who have now been joined by a few black elites," Nzimande said.