To this day, South Africa continues to remember the bravery of those young people, especially commemorating the lives of hundreds who died tragically during the events of June 16.
The day has since 1994 been declared a national public holiday known as national Youth Day.
Over and above, government has marked June as national Youth Month to highlight achievements by young people and encourage them to embrace the principles of selflessness demonstrated by those who died and suffered to achieve equal opportunities for young people.
This year, government is increasing efforts to develop and empower youth, who makes up the majority of South Africa’s population.
A series of programmes aimed at highlighting the work of government in providing opportunities for the youth are being unveiled and one of them is the Presidential Youth Working Group (PYWG) which President Jacob Zuma recently launched in Pretoria.
The PYWG brings together non-political youth organisations, who have been given a mandate to advice the Presidency on how to better implement youth programmes and monitor implementation of programmes aimed for youth by various departments, amongst other things.
During the launch, SA News spoke to some of the youth leaders who attended the gathering at the Sefako Makgato Presidential Guest House.
The Executive Chairman for South African Council for Graduates Co-operative, Thamsanqa Maqubela, said his request to the meeting was that young people be included in the budget of the state, as they make up the majority of the country.
“We want to see the budget, not only of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), but we want to see institutions of civic organisations, also agriculture and mining included in youth budget allocation,” he said.
He said the youth “did not want to just be given handouts” but want to take part in tangible programmes.
Youth representatives also called on the private sector to assist in the development of young people where government seems to be falling short.
Maqubela said his organisation plays a role of advising the President on matters of youth and graduate empowerment (or employment).
“Moreover, the SA Council for Graduates works to lobby private sector and government to advance opportunities to absorb new and unemployed graduates into gainful employment and work exposure programmes,” he said.
He said the organisation also leads and manages a Youth Employment Awards SA program to recognise employers in government and private sector who absorb youth and graduates through employment and empowerment programmes.
Maqubela felt that areas that warrant special attention include integration and upscaling of graduate empowerment activities such as graduate internship programmes and increasing the numbers to 200 000 per annum, standardising the internship stipend across all sponsors, and standardising the internship duration to 24 months for all graduates.
“We appeal to learners, students and graduates to know who they are and where they are going by setting goals. Let opportunities find you prepared so that you can live a life of purpose and add value to your country and the world through your career and talents.
“I want learners, students and graduates to hold on to their programmes and complete their education and training,” said Maqubela.
Representatives of youth formations from various sectors including education, agriculture, small business, sports, religious sectors, and health and youth development were represented in the meeting. Also in attendance was the NYDA Chairperson Yeshen Pillay as well as several Deputy Ministers led by the Deputy Minister for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency, Buti Manamela.
Deputy Minister Manamela said unemployment, poor skills levels and drugs were just some of the challenges facing young people today.
He said the National Youth Policy outlines initiatives and programmes that respond to these challenges which hinder our young people from taking charge of their destiny.
Initiatives include capitalising on the R2.7 billion made available by both the IDC and Small Enterprise Finance Agency to finance youth-owned enterprises, accelerating the implementation of the Youth Employment Accord of 2013, introducing interventions to provide unemployed and poor young people with income and opportunities for community service and engagement.