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Open Letter to the Youth of South Africa

Dear Talented Youth of South Africa,

From where I'm sitting, the media makes your future looks pretty dismal. We all know the statistics. More than one quarter of our population is unemployed, with those fresh out of school and university being the most affected.  One quarter of our population is food insecure, meaning they don't know where their next meal is coming from. There are millions of children who cannot learn on an empty stomach. Our economy is teetering on the brink of junk status. Our government continue to squander millions of Rands whilst delivering 'hot air' speeches about how we must all work together to make things better. Our country simply does not have enough jobs to help you survive, let alone be successful. But I know you're resilient enough.

Today South Africa is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 16 June 1976 Soweto Uprisings. I'm sure you're well aware that more than 170 students died that day, all because they wanted to be taught in their own languages. Their message and legacy is even more important today than it has been in the past 21 years since the dawn of our new democracy.

Earlier today, MP Jeff Radebe said that today's struggles are different to those faced by the youth of 1976. I beg to differ. Are they really that different when millions of you face high teacher: pupil ratio's, inadequate facilities, lack of textbooks and other learning materials and resources and the language issue still remains? Our country and our government are failing you. We, the adults, are failing you. We've been led to believe that equality is the way forward but what we actually need in education is equity, otherwise known as 'fairness'. But I know that you are smart enough to learn from our mistakes.

South Africa still has not managed to effectively implement equity into our education system.

South Africa still has not managed to effectively implement equity into our education system.

Whilst we're all breathing a sigh of relief after the recent 'save' from our economy being relegated to junk status and the media's favourite buzzword seems to be 'entrepreneurship', I can't help but take a moment to picture you, wondering how the heck you are going to 'make it big' in this life, especially if you are not equipped with practical, business and entrepreneurial skills. If I can offer you one piece of advice: don't let your current circumstances define you. Don't take 'no' for an answer. Sure, some doors may close and there'll be days you'll feel you're hitting your head against a brick wall, but never quit. Where there's a will, there's a way. If you see a problem, search for a solution. If you need people to help you make that solution a reality, go knock on every single door you can. We screwed up, and we will no doubt continue to screw up for a while to come. Defy the odds. You are destined for greatness. In the words of Steve Jobs, '... the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.'

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About Hayley Reichert

Passionate South African in London with a 'glass half full' approach to life.