Lyn @ “Prospects for The Demographic Dividend in South Africa”. 11-12 July 2011

Lyn was invited to attend the national World Population Day commemoration hosted by by the Department of Social Development and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on 11 – 12 July 2011. 

World Population Day (WPD) is an annual event, commemorated on 11 July. The aim is to raise awareness on the importance of population and socio-economic development.  WPD was first highlighted when the world reached five billion in 1987 and in 1999 the world passed the six billion mark.  This year, the world population is projected to reach 7 billion on 31 October.  Current world population projections point to the importance of creating opportunities for young people, who constitute the majority in many African countries, including South Africa.  

The focus of this year’s event was on young people, because when young people can exercise their right to health and education, and have access to descent work, they can contribute significantly to improve the capacities of their countries to escape poverty.

During the seminar, government leaders, researchers and senior officials presented papers that reflect on different aspects of the state of our country’s youth, and prospects for their development. 

On the second day of the seminar, participants engaged in group discussions on how to collaborate in a “youth population strategy”, which will support the government’s objectives on the sexual & reproductive health & rights and health of young people, their employment and education & training.

Key points from the presentations

Youth is now the largest part of the SA population This provides economic & other growth opportunity if key conditions are in place.

Schreiner, UNFPA:

-        Projected Global population 7 billion by end October. Start of advocacy campaign to highlight challenges and opportunities.
-        Essential that young people have opportunities, skills, choices, health-, education-, economic opportunities to utilise the dividend.

Deputy Minister of Social Development Ntuli:

-        Population pressure has particular effect on Africa.
-        Africa has been poor for too long - let us work hard and move on!

Min Soc Dev Bathabile Dlamini: The Minister’s speech is available on the DSD website 

-        The work of academics come from communities & ultimately are for communities.
-        Communities need to understand why population issues and planning are important.
-        SA now has more than 50 million people.
-        Fertility declining. Still pockets of poor access to reproductive health services and information and pockets of high youth pregnancy.
-        40% of South African population are youth. This provides a once off demographic window of opportunity.
-        10% of teenagers experience pregnancy, 30% of SA rape victims are youth, high HIV rates, high risk behaviour, high incidence of drugs, high exposure to violence.
-        Accurate sensus 2011 data essential for planning & targeted response, especially also for youth.

Dr Zacarius, UN:

-        Power of working together through social networks for change.
-        Youth face many challenges
-        Challenges facing youth: teenage pregnancy, youth unemployment, substance abuse, HIV.

Dr Altman, National Planning Commission: Achieving a demographic dividend?

-        The Demographic dividend is the opportunity that exists when there is a large economic population supporting relatively small dependant population.
-        SA has large youth proportion (Youth bulge) but most are economically inactive and thus dependant rather than adding to growth
-        National Planning Commission want youth involved & need ideas: will come as speakers, facebook, twitter, website 
-        Wild cards:
o   Inward migration from region;
o   1/3 women 18-30 HIV+;
o   access to services enabling social mobility;
o   general rate of economic growth
-        Education: Virtually universal enrolment to grade 9, but capabilities not in line with needs of economy or for post school learning.
-        Social mobilisation will be key but the context is one of diminishing social cohesion & alignment. Need leverage points eg mobile technology

Dr Makiwane HSRC - Demographics of Youth.

-        Two extremes - group who leave household early, and group who stays with parents for long time
-        2.9% of teenagers are the head of their household, rises dramatically in age group 20-24.
-        Vast majority of Indigent households (no regular household income) are youth - too old for grant, no job opportunity.

National Youth Development Agency on Youth, jobs & skills.

-        Quoting O R Tambo: "A nation who does not look after its youth has no future & does not deserve one".
-        Need second opportunities to make sure youth leaving school unprepared for job market have further opportunities for development.
-        All these plans will not be able to stop the "slide" if we do not fix our primary education system.
Always entertaining & informative Dr Eddie Mhlanga on sexual & reproductive health needs of adolescents
-        needs not addressed
-        Condoms are not made for young people, poor early experience might discourage safe sex for future.
-        Poor parental guidance;
o   Need to deal with issues: gender identity, physical deviations from norm; affirm & acceptance individuals
-         We need to deal with education issues NOW or we miss the opportunity. 'Real' nutrition also crucial for reproductive health
-         Risks of youth pregnancy:
o   Increase in premature births,
o   Increase in difficult births,
o   Increase in brain damage of babies,
o   Increase in hypertension & other complications of pregnancy,
o   Increase in miscarriage;
o   Lowered education
-        Barriers to SRH:
o   Limited knowledge - medical & social;
o   Social disintegration, attitudes;
o   Poverty - material, mind & spirit

Ms Dululu Hlatshaneni - Pregnancy in schools. Response of department of basic education

-         Multi-sectorial and interdepartmental challenge,
-        especially in primary education, abstinence is the first priority,
-        Learners suggested that longer school hours and more extracurricular activities are necessary to prevent teen pregnancy.
-        Watch out for poor school performance, regular absence from school & history of child abuse as risk factors for teen pregnancy
-         Reintegrate learners into schools after pregnancy or other drop out - second chance and catch up programmes.
-        Need support for pregnant learners, including parenting classes and health care, and for young mothers who return to school.

Makiwane: Is health of youth improving?

-        Increase in alcohol and tobacco use;
-        Sexual initiation under age of 15yrs increasing in female youth.
-        Young females:
o   more cross generational sex;
o   teenage child bearing declining;
o   increased induced abortion;
o   HIV prevalence stabilising
-         Young men:
o   Sexual initiation not delayed,
o   Condom use increasing but not consistent,
o   More young men reporting multiple partners.

Dr Charles Sheppard: Trends in Educational Attainment.

-        99% or appropriate age children are in school at ages Gr1 - 7.
-        Close to gender parity in primary and secondary schooling.
-        In tertiary education females dominate and are doing much better.
-        massive loss of children after grade 9.
-        Dramatic reduction in local and international measures of educational performance.
-        2.5mil people between 18-24 not working and not studying, although many of them qualify for some type of tertiary education.

Potgieter-Gqubule: Social and labour market exclusion and inclusion:

-        Youth are often seen as trouble: IN trouble or SOURCE of trouble.
-        Youth research (Everatt & Orkin) in 1993 on 12 dimensions: 25% fine, 26% marginalised, 44% at risk, 5% lost. Where are we now?
-        Youth Labour Market viewed as distinct sector in labour market. Two thirds of the SA labour force is under 35. High percentage of discouragement in youth unemployed.

Neloufar Khan:

-        Trend towards non-marriage, earlier sexual initiation, more births outside recognised family patterns, change in family patterns
-        We are reproducing a culture of violence in places where children should be safest - home & school.

Oliver Zambuko: Reporting on large study by Dept Population & Development on Factors associated with teenage pregnancy in SA.

-        Teenage pregnancy largely amongst black & coloured learners,
-        more likely with girls performing poorly at school,
-        linked with low self esteem
-        Girls often drop out and then fall pregnant - drop out precedes pregnancy. Keep girls in school!
-        Problem of teenage pregnancy acerbated by:
o   lack of partner support,
o   lack of family support,
o   cross generational sex,
o   poor knowledge of reproductive functions,
o   poor access to care
-        Access to care limited by
o   societal values & norms;
o   judgemental approach of health care,
o   stigma,
o   distance,
o   disruption of service & stocks

A selection of the papers presented are available here

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