Where is Tintswalo? The State of the Nation Address minimises young South Africans' challenges - Youth Capital
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Where is Tintswalo? The State of the Nation Address minimises young South Africans’ challenges

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At the time of the State of the Nation Address, South Africa sees a stubbornly high youth unemployment rate, with 9.1 million young people who are not in education, employment or training; the majority of Grade 4 learners can’t read for meaning in any language; a sluggish economy battered by ongoing loadshedding, and in parts of the country, a lack of water. The Presidential Employment Stimulus, which has created over one million opportunities for young South Africans across the country, has yet to receive long-term funding.

Outlining the achievements of the last 30 years of democracy, President Ramaphosa described the success of a young person, Tintswalo. Using a great narrative, the President illustrated how Tintswalo leveraged public opportunities such as feeding schemes, public housing, free education, the ability to complete her studies at her local Technical and Education Vocational College and transitioned into the world of work; she was able to earn and save money and start a family. However, the story of Tintswalo doesn’t reflect the many systemic challenges that young people encounter every single day. 

‘Tintswalo’s story is a dream. A figment of their imagination because, as it was said before, her story is not the norm. Plus, “Tinstwalo” found a job. Lucky her. But for the rest of us, it’s not that easy.’ a young person in the Youth Capital network shared during a watch party organised by advocacy campaign Youth Capital. 

‘Everyday, young people in our community share the intricate layers of challenges they face to be able to complete their education and make an income; President Ramaphosa’s speech is really out of touch with young people’s realities. In a country where a third of its citizens are young people, young people’s issues should be acknowledged as a national priority’, says Kristal Duncan-Williams, Project Lead at Youth Capital. 

Another young person in the Youth Capital network shared that ‘the lack of opportunities creates a vicious cycle that perpetuates a sense of hopelessness among young people, as we find ourselves trapped. I implore you to prioritise initiatives such as the Presidential Employment Stimulus, which has demonstrated tangible benefits for youth, learners, communities, and the economy at large.’

The President’s speech was full of promises and pledges regarding the future of the Presidential Employment Stimulus, National Health Insurance and an extension and strengthening of the Social Relief of Distress grant; however, the reality will be unveiled on 21 February when the National Budget is tabled. ‘We hope to see the ruling party put their money where their mouth is’, adds Duncan-Williams.

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