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American University Vows To Restore SA Youth Right To Education

“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.”

The above famous Nelson Mandela quote best describes the aspirations of dozens of Plettenberg Bay unemployment youth that hit a record high this year on the back of the pandemic and resulting economic slump, reaching a staggering 46.3% in Q1 2021, according to Stats SA.

With nearly half of young people unemployed and looking for work, change is clearly needed. And education holds the key.

Employment prospects

Stats SA’s data shows that of the 7.2 million unemployed persons in the first quarter of 2021, more than half (52.4%) had education levels below matric, followed by those with matric at 37.7%. Only 2.1% of unemployed persons were graduates, while 7.5% had other tertiary qualifications as their highest level of education.

The difference between the employment prospects of graduates and non-graduates is so stark that tertiary education can be described as an economic imperative. Recent decades have shown that higher education is, if not a cure, at least a protection against unemployment.

“The importance of acquiring skills to enable South Africa’s youth to find jobs and earn higher wages thereby alleviating poverty, income inequality and joblessness, makes the policy to enrol more students in tertiary institutions a must.” – that is according by World Bank 2019 report

Wage gap

Another Stats SA data set, released in 2017, showed that there is a clear increase in monthly salary the more educated someone is. According to the study, a person who has earned their matric can expect almost double the salary of a high school drop-out.

A tertiary certificate results in a 67% jump in potential earnings and a bachelor’s degree a massive 330% increase in salary.

These findings not only apply in South Africa but are echoed worldwide. A few Research Centre study in 2014 showed that the value of a college degree is greater than it has been in nearly half a century – the earnings gap between those with bachelor’s degrees versus high school graduates is wider than it was for previous generations. Paul Taylor, then-executive vice president of the Centre, said:

“The driver of the widening gap is not so much that today’s college graduates are doing better than yesterday’s college graduates; it’s that today’s high school-only graduates are doing worse than yesterday’s high school-only graduates. The real story is the collapse in economic opportunity for people who do not continue their education beyond high school.”

And with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ranking South Africa’s education system as amongst the lowest in the world in 2015, those opportunities are bleaker than ever – especially on an international stage.

Founder of tuition-free American online university, the University of the People, Shai Reshef, believes that his internationally accredited platform can play a huge role in ensuring that the rights and aspirations of dozens of Plettenberg Bay can be realized.

”There is no quick fix for the economic difficulties the country currently faces. But imagine, for a second, how different these statistics would look if more youth had the opportunity to pursue tertiary education after high school.

Institutions such as the University of the People, where I serve as President, provides such opportunities.”

One of the Plettenberg Bay-based students, Zuzeka Jabavu is the victim of study fees chaos told JHR that she is prepared to do everything legal to realize her dream of obtaining a degree in order to ensure a better future for herself.
”To be honest I did not know about the University of the People but based on what I have heard I would definitely study through their international recognized institution.
I am sure applying at Peoples University might open doors for amazing things and help me to explore something new and possibly find greater opportunities” said Jabavu

By Siphokazi Mnyobe

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