The prospect of launching Live Magazine where it’s needed in South Africa brings to mind that charming English proverb about ‘hitting a cow’s backside with a spade’… this is not to sound flippant, or at all to suggest that it will be easy – quite the contrary – but you sense that in terms of need, there’s so many places to aim that it would be hard to miss. Interventions like this (and there are some brilliant ones out there already, as I am discovering) are desperately needed, especially to augment the poor standard of education and the gaping chasm in young people being unready for work.
It’s becoming apparent to me, even this early in my time here, that the model of Live Mag in the UK – young people of varying abilities and backgrounds, all in one room – may currently not be able to work here in the same way, without making it exclusive to a single community. At least in this area, there are too many different communities in different (separated) locations with different languages and, of course, different levels of ability within every one.
It’s a world of difference here. But with over 50% of under 25-year-olds unemployed, and a population where over half of people are under 25, what unites most young people is the need to move toward employment. And that’s where I’m finding a real gap: helping young people move towards meaningful employment, where they’ll stay and survive and thrive…
Mulling over these questions endlessly has been an addiction for me, especially since I arrived (and with no non-work life to speak of yet - sob!). And as with any addiction, you sometimes wake up with a moment of clarity. This morning I sat bolt upright in bed and sketched a clear vision of a multi-tiered, multi-location, project structure, that acts as a ‘travelator’ from learning basic skills at the bottom, towards apprenticeships and employment at the top… all housed within the exciting, inspiring and fun chrysalis of Live Magazine as the focus and the output.
It’s a more protracted, more nuanced version of the project in London, but then there needs to be more support, more time taken, and greater investment here in getting these young people up the ladder towards job-readiness. We learnt that in the UK with our Music4good apprenticeships: even for London teenagers, without such linguistic or cultural gulfs between how they grew up and the job market, they need proper support, coaching, mentoring… we need to be responsible for them, not shove them into jobs and cross our fingers that they’ll know what to do.
I feel clear (at least for today) that the focus has to be geared towards employability.
This is all based on what I’m hearing, almost entirely from practitioners working in the communities. Tomorrow I go to Khayelitsha for the first time since I’ve arrived, to spend the afternoon at one of Equal Education’s weekly youth group meetings, where their ‘Equalizers’ (peer educators/ ambassadors) gather and learn about politics. I can’t wait to hear from young people themselves – something that is sorely missing in the current hypothesis. Maybe by the end of this week I might have revised my theory again…