DURBAN - COVID-19 has prevented the youth from fully commemorating Youth Day for the second year in a row.
Congress of SA Students president Thabang Mokoena said South Africans were supposed to commemorate Youth Day on Wednesday but they were again unable to due to the pandemic.
“The pupils of June 16, 1976, marched because they were tired of the apartheid regime and being taught in Afrikaans. We’re tired of being forced to go to schools while the conditions don’t allow us to go to school. We’re tired of being forced to go to schools while ministers, premiers and MECs are being prevented from getting the coronavirus while us pupils are not. The country relies on young people … we’re the future of this country. We must be taken into consideration as young people,” Mokoena said.
More than 55% of young people were “most anxious” due to the impact of Covid-19 on levels of violence and poverty, according to a UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) South Africa U-Report survey released on Youth Day on Wednesday. The survey was conducted using Unicef SA’s free U-Report SMS platform and received just over 6 000 responses, with more than 75% of them from young people aged between 15 and 24.
Unicef SA said illness, death of family members and disrupted education had the biggest impact on young people’s mental well-being but they were reluctant to reach out for support, with 64% of respondents stating they did not seek help.
This while 78% said they had tried to, or would try to, help improve their peers’ mental well-being.
Fear of talking about their mental health issues to others and lack of information were noted as the key reasons for not getting help.
“The broad-ranging impact of Covid-19 on the mental well-being and future opportunities for young people has been severe,” said Unicef SA representative Christine Muhigana.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases reported that 8 436 new Covid-19 cases were identified in South Africa on Tues - day, which represented a 17.8% positivity rate, bringing the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 1 761 066. It said the majority of new cases were in Gauteng (64%), the Western Cape (7%), North West (6%), Free State (6%) and KwaZulu-Natal (5%).