DA can grow the economy young people can access

Image: 123RF/dolgachov

While basic education minister Angie Motshekga announced the 2018 national matric pass rate of 78.2% with glee, the real pass rate is a humble 37.6%. This is after factoring in the reality that many of our youth fall out of the system or do not reach and write matric in the expected time.

The ugly truth is that of 100 pupils who start school, only 50 will make it to grade 12, 40 will pass, and only 12 will qualify for university. Those in the 18-24 age group who do not acquire some form of post-secondary education are relegated to the struggle of unemployment. They have the highest probabilities of being unemployed for sustained periods of time, if not permanently.

The largest concern I have is that the education system time and again remains both dire and ineffective.

The vast majority of South African pupils are significantly below where they should be in terms of the curriculum, and more generally, have not reached a host of normal numeracy and literacy milestones.

So what options do we have as young people? On one hand we lack fair access to opportunities due to a failing economy which the ANC-led government has destroyed over the past 10 years and has no plan for its resuscitation.

On the other hand, young people leave school with little prospects of accessing higher education, and less chances of entering the job market armed with only the senior certificate. Our current situation of a failing education system will be felt for years to come. The reality for many students is that fewer young people [with qualifications] get employment each year.

This will leave less space for our graduation class of 2036, who began school this year.

It is imperative that in the election this year we look at the long-term problems facing South Africa and let go of short-term and unsustainable solutions.

Through the DA we can create an economy which works, where millions of young people are absorbed into a growing economy. Every young university/college graduate or a matriculant deserves a chance to access job opportunities.

Once in governance of national government, the DA will introduce a Voluntary National Service year to provide work experience for unemployed matriculants to enter work-based training in the community healthcare, basic education or SAPS fields.

The DA plans to expand job centres throughout South Africa that provide information, advice and free internet to job-seekers. The DA government will fully fund TVET colleges as they are important vocational training institutions despite their current chronic underfunding.

As it stands, the SA education system is grossly inefficient and severely underperforming. This year is our opportunity to vote for change that will address the problem of retaining students in the system and ensuring they have a hopeful future after school.

- Mphithi is DA Federal Youth leader