As the grass grows

This essay focuses on young South Africans, who were born after the end of apartheid. Twenty years after the birth of democracy, the 2014 national elections marked the first occasion in which a new generation of youngsters born in a democratic South Africa, were eligible to vote. So in this sense they are considered to be free. This group of young voters have been nicknamed, Born Frees. The essay title is taken from a line in the song, Born Free, the theme song of the Oscar-winning film released in 1966 (with the same title).

Paradoxically, the country’s unemployment rate has increased steadily over the past two decades providing little hope of employment for many millions of young South Africans, despite being born free. In 2014 the rate of joblessness rose to 25.5%, the worst national figure recorded thus far. South African youth have, in recent years, shown their discontent in the form of community demonstrations, earning the country the title of “protest capital of the world”

At the same time, the school education system has imploded. In 2014, a World Economic Forum report rated the quality of South Africa’s Mathematics and Science education as the worst out of the 148 countries surveyed. A high percentage of students leave school early or fail to achieve sufficiently high marks to attend a tertiary education institution.