The incident took place just after the expensive and huge celebrations of currently dominant South African political party, the African National Congress. After 100 years, the ANC celebrated its history, a turbulent one that moved against the flow of the times in its old days with anti-apartheid views. At the 3 day long celebrations, ANC member Andrew Mlangeni, who was jailed with the famous Nelson Mandela, stated, “”I’m very happy and proud that we have achieved what we fought for: freedom. People of South Africa today are free and this is what we had been struggling for.”
Post-apartheid promises included the extension or creation of better health care to the majority of South Africans, better housing as opposed to the rundown and poorly constructed “shanty towns” along with the flinging of doors to higher education for the general public, previously exclusive for white Afrikaans during the Apartheid.
All of these have been worked on and certainly accomplished in a number of ways pushing South Africa a long, long way in progress.
However nothing much has changed for the millions living in shanty towns, where violence and poverty are abound, and the hundreds of thousands of women who are raped or undergo “corrective rape” due to their sexual preferences.
Nothing much has changed for over 30% of the entire South African population who remain unemployed and certainly, as the recent stampede at the University of Johannesburg points out, that things may be going down a rough path for the current and future generations.
It all started with a queue that stretched almost over 1.5 miles made up of thousands of students who were vying for a smaller number of approximately 1,000 spots in the University of Johannesburg (est. 2005).
This year, the number of applications reached 85,000, far more than the 67,000 applications received last year. An overwhelming 99% of the applications were seeking undergraduate status.
Public universities like the University of Johannesburg is swamped by the sheer number of applicants every year due to the high chances of getting accepted due to the “minimalist” requirements while also offering the few undergraduate options available in the entire country.
Both parents and students rushed forward against the gates, forcing them to be opened by school staff, and the resulting stampede and scramble over the walls and through the entrance way resulted in 22 injuries and the death of a mother who was simply there to encourage her son on.
It was a tragic incident that demanded solutions or some blame to be placed. Many blame the university’s staff for not “effectively” communicating with the queue.
Others simply blame this simple problem of hundreds of thousands of desperate students literally scrambling over each other to cram into a limited number of university vacancies so that they can somehow escape unemployment that plagues over 70% of the South African youth demographic.
Government spokespeople, after this incident, emphasized that college degrees aren’t the only way to get out of poverty and gain employment. According to a recent report released by Adcorp, more than 600,000 college graduates are still unemployed in the country.
The government’s Education Minister Blade Nzimande pointed out other educational options were available including hugely vacant diploma programs that one could apply for at “technical schools” otherwise known as “FET” (Further Education and Training), the equivalent to this being perhaps a GED of some sort.
But of course, a glaring flaw in Nzimande’s point is that employers often avoid hiring those with FET diplomas as the diplomas are often looked down upon.
And we come back to a previous point: why haven’t the 600,000 college graduates gotten employed yet if they meet the qualifications?
It’s a most serious and puzzling problem that’s now glaring right into the eyes of most of South Africa.
(Cover Photo: Mirror.co.uk)