In honour of Youth Day commemorations and celebrating the youth of South Africa, former president Kgalema Motlanthe and his wife Gugu Mtshali listen to speakers at the Gauteng Youth Expo at Nasrec Centre, Johannesburg. Picture: Karen Sandison African News Agency (ANA)
Johannesburg - Former president Kgalema Motlanthe has warned that the continued side-lining of young people in matters of national importance, including plans for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, will pose a developmental challenge for the country.

Motlanthe was speaking at the Gauteng Youth Expo in Nasrec, south of Johannesburg, where his foundation held an exhibition for its Artificial Intelligence Africa initiative.

The foundation’s programme is specifically aimed at addressing the systematic exclusion of youth in a variety of 21st century careers, by partnering with the private sector, including Fliptin and Microsoft, to provide technological exposure which would improve their prospects at digital inclusion.

“The programme serves to whet the appetite of young people about how best to use smart devices to solve societal and community problems,” Motlanthe said.

Motlanthe said young people had to be moved from the periphery when it came to decision-making that affected them, including in the work done by the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa this year.

Motlanthe also criticised how traditional forms of education were still being used while young people had more digital access and know-how.

“The whole conceptualisation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is that the young ones are right in the centre of it, and so the old method of treating them as empty receptacles and pumping them with information and data they already have access to is wrong,” he said.

Some of the youth who participated at the expo lamented how they had been gone through tertiary education and ended up with qualifications that they could not use.

Political Bureau