Youth Innovation Lab in South Africa

Africa Unite, in partnership with AYANA International, held a 4-day workshop [on the] 10th, 11th, 12th, and 17th of October 2017 with 15 learners who are part of the Masibambane Secondary School AU Club in Cape Town South Africa. The workshop, titled Youth Innovation Lab, sought to ignite the creative, problem-solving potential of these youth! The goal was to inform the youth on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how they can develop innovative projects in order to realize these goals in their respective schools and communities.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are part of the Global Agenda designed in 2015 by the United Nations’ 193-member states. They replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed in 2000 to reduce world poverty, which mainly focused only on the less developed countries. In contrast, the SDGs involve all the countries of the United Nations at the same level as they tackle many issues (poverty, socio-economic inequalities, gender issues, access to healthcare, education and climate change).

During the first 3 days, the learners had time to discuss some of the challenges they face in their schools and communities in relation to the SDG’s. Below are some of the topics which emerged:

  • High rate of school drop-outs, especially in township schools,

  • Lack of equipment and inadequate capacity of teachers to deliver quality education in township schools,

  • Marginalisation of the learners on all levels of decision making,

  • Majority of the underprivileged communities are characterised by poor service delivery and lack of access to basic socio-economic services that are necessary for survival

Following this the learners were divided into three groups then given the opportunity to identify solutions and develop projects that can address some of these issues. On the last day the learners were tasked to give a presentation on their project plan and budget. These presentations were done in the presence of African Monitor, one of the leading Pan African organisation championing youth participation on SDGs.

Below are the three projects which were identified by the learners:

Group #1: Youth Taking Charge (YTC)

To reduce inequalities that are still existing in the post-apartheid South Africa and give young people a voice, YTC seeks to create a platform for learners to engage various stakeholders and decision makers in all levels of society for their voices to be heard (i.e. school, community, local and provincial government). The group will also inform other youth on good governance – how the local government works and how the public can participate in the decision, implementation and monitoring processes.

Group #2: School Dropouts

The current school curriculum in most townships does not provide for creative and extramural opportunities such as music, art and sports. In these schools the focus is mainly on theoretical subjects’ contrary to suburb schools. As a result, some of the learners in township schools lack motivation, drive and interest thereby increasing the chances of dropping out of school. The group seeks to advocate and lobby provincial and national government to provide more resources to underprivileged schools for the above activities can take place.

Group #3: Creating a Safer School Environment

According to University of South Africa (UNISA) about 34% of learners have been bullied and 23% of the learners admitted being bullies, this has been a huge challenge in schools for the past years. The learners have discovered that their school did not even have an anti-bulling policy. The group intends to schedule meetings with various stakeholders so that such a policy can be developed in various schools. Furthermore, the group would like to launch a campaign with the aim of raising awareness against bullying through various activities.

This was originally posted on the Africa Unite blog on October 19, 2017.

We are grateful to Georvi Simalungana and Brilliant Nyambi of Africa Unite, who worked to bring the Youth Innovation Lab to South Africa and support the next generation of young leaders!