Now at the back of the month of June which is dedicated to appreciating and encouraging young people, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, the Bishop of Mthatha, wishes to share some thoughts about the situation of young people today.
Bishop Sipuka said although being young is associated with being joyful and looking forward to a happy, meaningful and a bright future, this youthful trait is not true for most of the youth of South Africa. He is talking about a youth that is both “betrayed and unemployed”. He said, “most young people humiliatingly depend on their parents’ grants for survival”, with 74% of young people who have reached working age being unemployed.
The bishop points out that the betrayal of unemployment actually stems from the betrayal from the education system among other problems, “Youth unemployment is also due to the visionless educational system, which prepares young people for non-existent white-collar jobs.” As a result young people are forced into a system that eventually spits them out because they cannot cope with it.
As part of the solution to the problem the bishop affirms that there is need also to encourage and challenge young people, “young people need to be challenged in their laziness which sees them standing in long-winding queues with old and disabled people for the Covid-19 R350 grant while the fertile backyards of their homes capable of producing healthy vegetable are overgrown with weeds that provide breeding habitat for rats and snakes.” He further acknowledges that this not true of all young people, “Some, from difficult and seriously disadvantaged backgrounds make use of whatever opportunity there is to improve their lives, some of them ending up being successful, while others manage to survive and to live an orderly life.”
Turning to the Church the Bishop said the task is to encourage this “vuk’uzenzele” (stand up and do it yourself) attitude instead of waiting to be taken care of. Inculcating development mentality among Priests & Religious can be part of the solution according to the Bishop, “We can be effective in encouraging others about development if we, the leadership of the Church model by example instead of pontificating.” He further says it would be good if spiritual care and development training are done concurrently in a synergic manner.
Download the full statement below.