South African Youth Leaders Network (SAYLN) believes that the youth are critical, and often neglected, stakeholders in the future of a post-Apartheid society.
Youth therefore have a key role to play in transforming South Africa into the kind of society it could become: one in which people are valued as human beings, welcomed in all their diversity and allowed to play a contributing role in working towards a vision of a better future for themselves and their fellow citizens.
Young people need to be supported to begin to act for themselves and take responsibility for their own lives.
SAYLN’s programmes provide safe spaces for our youth to start this process and our member organisations will be supported to become places where youth can take this process further for themselves.
A culture of competition rather than cooperation persists in many parts of the NPO sector in South Africa: a situation that frustrates donors and, to some extent, communities, and that certainly limits the effectiveness of the sector. SAYLN recognises the need to bring our efforts together for increased impact; and in the process, to strengthen youth-led and/or youth-focused organisations and their practice.
has grown from the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (PACSA) project
“Promotion of New and Existing Initiatives – Youth Work in SA”.
Over the project period from January 2012 until December 2015, PACSA has substantially triggered SAYLN’s founding, including securing implementation of activities and SAYLN’s organisational development.
- April 2013
- They persist in
- State of youth
SAYLN was formed in April 2013 as an informal network of individuals and organisations with an interest in managing diversity. In May 2014 the organisation was formally constituted. On 30 June 2015 SAYLN was registered as a not-for-profit organisation (NPO) under South African law.
SAYLN was formed in a very particular context – that of post-Apartheid South Africa, almost 20 years into democracy.
The legacy of Apartheid is familiar to anyone working in South Africa. It is legacy of social disintegration at every level of society; discrimination on the basis of race, gender, culture and class; segregation and separation across colour lines; and massive inequalities of opportunity and access.
Much work has been done by state and civil society players to address this history, but its aftereffects remain visible in South Africa today.
They persist in:
- South Africa’s extremely high Gini coefficient (a key measure of economic inequality) which stands at 0.63 (the fourth highest in the world);
- the dearth of genuinely integrated communities;
- systemic racism and sometimes dysfunctional responses to it (populist politics; xenophobic violence; violent and destructive protests at institutions of higher learning, etc.);
- other forms of violence, misdirected rage and attempts to claim control of ‘weaker’ others (gender violence; corrective rape; child abuse; etc.);
- a plethora of social ills including alarming rates of gangsterism; crime; drug abuse and addiction; unemployment; HIV/AIDS; and teenage pregnancy.
The mental state of youth – particularly youth from disadvantaged communities – is too often characterised by animosity, anger and blame. Youth are often disconnected or alienated from their communities (and each other) and lack self-esteem, hope, and a vision for their lives. They struggle to act and form relationships that would support positive action. In many parts of rural, peri-urban and urban South Africa there is a culture of brokenness: broken families, broken communities, low social cohesion, high levels of hopelessness. Effective responses to these realities cannot come only from outside of our local environment (i.e. from government/social programmes/international aid). Without direct action on the part of beneficiaries – i.e. young people themselves – these kind of external interventions often lead only to unsustainable dependency.
So, South African youth find themselves faced with a critical challenge: we need to claim own agency and power; and to rewrite our stories so that healing and development are enabled. This requires that we, as young people, begin to change ourselves and to take positive action.