SOUTH AFRICA: Bishop Sipuka Blames Education System for High Youth Unemployment

By Rahab Kuria

JOHANNESBURG, JULY 6, 2021 (CISA)-Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of the Catholic Diocese of Mthatha, President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has blamed the “visionless” education system as one of the major causes of high unemployment among the youth in the country.

“It would be superficial to deal with the present youth unemployment without raising related problems leading to it, the education system being the mother problem of them all…youth unemployment is due to the visionless educational system, which prepares young people for non-existent white-collar jobs,” he said in a July 2 statement.

“This has resulted in several qualified young people sitting at home because qualified as they are, there is no market for their skills. The few that have potential for entrepreneurship also find themselves lacking support in training and funding to implement business projects they are dreaming of,” he added.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Bishop highlighted that the education system forces those oriented towards vocational and practical skills into theoretical streams where their potential is not identified and enhanced.

“Lack of detection of a child’s capabilities in early age has led many a child to failure in life because their potential has not been identified and enhanced. They are forced into a system that eventually spits them out. It is important that we recognize this lacunae so that we can see where and how as a church and society we can make meaningful interventions,” Bishop Sipuka said.

According to the bishop, there is need to encourage and challenge young people to engage in productive activities that are not necessarily white collar jobs to sustain their livelihoods.

“…young people need to be challenged in their laziness which sees them standing in long-winding queues with old and disabled people for the Covid-19 R350 grant while the fertile backyards of their homes capable of producing healthy vegetable are overgrown with weeds that provide breeding habitat for rats and snakes,” he said.

The prelate urged the Church to encourage the “stand up and do it yourself attitude” among youth and inculcate development mentality among clergy so that they can model a good example and empower young people.

“Young people must be encouraged to “arise” and do something, volunteer for something, take care of a needy person or situation, ask to clean somebody’s yard, sell something, get involved in the Church and avail themselves for responsibilities,” the bishop opined.

“We can be effective in encouraging others about development if we, the leadership of the Church model by example instead of pontificating,” he noted.