A culture of reading our only way

THE challenge of youth unemployment is gradually eating away at the strides and breakthroughs of our democratic dispensation. Youth unemployment is caused and exacerbated by an absence of intellectual innovation among most young people.

THE challenge of youth unemployment is gradually eating away at the strides and breakthroughs of our democratic dispensation. Youth unemployment is caused and exacerbated by an absence of intellectual innovation among most young people.

It is estimated that more than 250000 formal jobs are advertised daily in South Africa but no youths respond. And it is reckoned that only 15percent of unemployed youth meet the prescribed qualifications and skills requirements for the posts. One has to wonder why this is so.

South Africa, a fairly literate society, is less informed and knowledgeable about contemporary trends. Unemployment among the youth is not necessarily caused by illiteracy but by a lack of knowledge and misinformation. Influential knowledge and information is, in most instances, sourced from reading.

We are vastly misinformed and less knowledgeable about contemporary trends.

A "literate intellect" and an "informed mind" are two worlds apart, hence a pertinent need to bridge that apartness. We have some university graduates who are so misinformed they cannot differentiate between a judge and a magistrate.

We seem unable to create and embrace a culture of reading.

The dynamic causes of youth unemployment are obscured and hidden behind popular but incorrect assumptions, with bureaucratic inefficiency being blamed as the chief culprit. Antonio Gramsci warned about "making assumptions and insinuations without proper research".

The rise in youth unemployment is a result of the prevailing lack of intellectual innovation and creativity among most of our young people. We are on a slippery slope if drastic interventions are not employed.

We must encourage government to promote a culture of reading that must filter into schools, universities, training colleges, provincial legislatures, national parliament and other sectors of our society.

We must encourage our government to promote a culture of reading among our people.

In secondary schools teachers must dedicate a period a week to this campaign. Learners must share with classmates the content of any constructive novels or magazines they have read in the past week.

Learners must be encouraged to read not only books but other informative sources such as journals and newspapers. The same must apply to university or college students.

Provincial legislatures and Parliament should also dedicate half-a-day every three months to talking about a book or any inspiring material they have read.

This campaign will contribute to a reduction in youth criminality, boredom, reckless sexual behaviour, social irresponsibility and unemployment among young people.

A reading nation always progresses and is never short of innovative solutions to challenges. We must learn from the prosperity and progress made by the world's most reading nations.

A culture of reading campaign is the only new way forward open to South Africa.

lElvis Masoga is a researcher with the Institute for Dialogue and Policy Analysis

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