This year marks the 41st anniversary of the Soweto uprisings, whereby more than 15 000 students gathered at Orlando West Secondary School on 16 June 1976, with the intention of participating in a peaceful march to the nearby Orlando Stadium.The demonstration had been planned in protest against the use of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction at schools. However, the police and armed forces responded to the protest violently and the first fatality of the day was Hector Pieterson, a 12 year old pupil who was shot by the police. It is believed that 175 others were also killed that day. The Soweto Uprising tragically ended up with a number of young people going into exile and some being killed when they protested against the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction. This violent backlash to what was meant to be a peaceful march caught the attention of the international community. After this event, many countries imposed sanctions on South Africa in an attempt to force the apartheid government to ease its repressive rule. The oppressed black youth made an everlasting mark in South Africa’s history and outlook.
The youth month theme for 2017 is;
“The year of OR Tambo: Advancing Youth Economic Empowerment”
According to savision2020, South Africa’s rate of entrepreneurial activity is very low for a developing nation – a mere quarter of that seen in other sub-Saharan African countries. Unemployment is around 40% of the adult population; despite this, the number of people starting businesses due to having no other option for work (necessity entrepreneurship) is low.
Youth Unemployment Rate in South Africa averaged 51.54 percent from 2013 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 54.50 percent in the first quarter of 2016.
The unemployment rate in South Africa increased alarmingly in the first quarter of 2017. With the recent junk status rating and falling into recession, South Africa has recorded its highest jobless rate since the first quarter of 2004 (tradingeconomics.com).
With this gloomy picture in mind, it is necessary to encourage young people and provide them with the tools necessary to improve their economic standing.
The Fund believes in creating platforms for the young members of our society to shape the kind of a future they would like to see. It is a reminder to the society that children are leaders of tomorrow. Without children, society has no future. And if our children are happy, healthy, safe and secure, so will the future of our society be happy, healthy, safe and secure.
One of the projects funded by the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund that embraces youth entrepreneurship is Education With Enterprise Trust (EWET) which promote entrepreneurship at school level, this helps us in future not to be just job seekers but also be able to create jobs.
To encourage entrepreneurship in school going and out of school young people the Youth Enterprise Society (YES) which creates an even greater impact in addressing the various issues affecting the youth in various community settings.
School children who are part of the YES programme went on to win an Eskom national entrepreneurship award.
In the words of our founder – “Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation.” ~ Nelson Mandela