Youth Day Essay Competition Winners

By Victoria Ntuli · Jun 22, 2021

Young courageous students gathered on the 16th of June 1976 to fight the inequality and oppression caused by apartheid. The fearless black students took to the streets of Soweto to protest. The main root of the protest was the introduction of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in South African schools. The protest initially started in one school and eventually spread to all the schools in Soweto. The protest was a cry and a voice of black students to seek the transformation of the unfavorable 
education system that was not equal and inclusive. 

Today we proudly commemorate this significant day where we remember all the 1976 youth who stood still and fought for a better education and a better future for the coming generation. Today we respect the youth that lost their lives so that we can have the free education that we have now. Every year June 16 is honoured and celebrated in various ways throughout the country. Wearing of school uniform is one form of remembering the youth of 1976, the uniform can be worn by everyone elders included.  

As Academic Network we decided to celebrate the youth day by giving the youth an opportunity to write an essay detailing their views about youth day and how they can empower themselves. 

The essay included the following questions which the youth had to answer using their knowledge, creativity and critical thinking.  

“What is the importance of Youth Day?” 
How should Youth Day be celebrated?” 
“Do you think the Youth of South Africa have freedom? Elaborate” 
“Do you think the Youth of South Africa is making use of the available academic information and  
resources to empower themselves? Elaborate” 
“Suggest possible ways in which the Youth can empower themselves” 

We are excited to announce the winners of the Youth Day Competition. We received so many entries and it was difficult choosing the winners but we had to make a decision and select the best  
winning essays. We have four winners all from different provinces and schools in South Africa. Their essays reminded me of the high school days. Their essays made me realise that the youth of South  Africa is aware of their history and where they come from, aware of everything that is happening currently in South Africa and they are willing to take actions to achieve their dreams. The essays made me realise that the youth is appreciating and honouring the youth of 1976. Most importantly the essays are evident that the youth is willing to further their studies to higher institutions so that they can become better individuals in life. 

In 4th place is Nhlanhla Msomi a 22 year old who matriculated in 2017 from Pietermaritzburg, Kwazulu Natal. His essay outlines the reality of the youth indulging in substance abuse and how substance abuse affect their future. 

“The youth of 2021 is wasting their freedom by taking drugs, drinking alcohol and forgetting the importance of Education” This sentence stood out for me because it is nothing but the truth. Bitter truth is that our youth is slowly drowning into alcohol and they are slowly losing themselves due to  
many drugs that were introduced into their lives. The youth is blind to see the significant of education and how education can shape and change their lives. It is heart-breaking to see a teenager young as 14 or 15 drinking alcohol and going out at night to taverns. There and then you question the future the teenager will have as they have started on a bad path at a tender age.

In 3rd place is Nomvula Nojobe a 20 year old who is currently in gap year from Wesselbron, Free State Province. Her essay is evident that the youth understand the freedom they have.  

“The youth have freedom to follow their own journey and they have freedom of expression in South Africa” We are living in an era where the youth can choose the career paths they want to follow.  
Gone are those days where students were forced to be bottled into certain careers such as teaching and policing. Now the youth is open minded on the vast careers available such as photography, filming, marketing, journalism, dance and etc… The youth can choose these careers without having  to listen to other people opinions and criticisms. I’m pleased to see the number of young people starting their own businesses increasing daily. Again the young people have freedom of expression whereby they are able to share their opinions and ideas with everyone they interact with. The young  
people can express themselves through social Medias and through community development organisations. 

In 2nd place is Katlego Manele from Mafikeng, North West province. Her essay is evident that the youth is determined to get that paper which is qualifications. Many young people have a dream to one day wear a graduation gown. 

“The young people are fighting to get qualifications e.g. Diplomas, Degrees, Honours and Masters from Higher Institutions” Numerous young people are graduates, are in enrolled in colleges and  universities and Many are fighting to get into higher institutions. Each year young people send applications to higher institutions so they can further their studies and get the key to success. 
There’s a huge challenge when it comes to applying to higher institutions, the first challenge is online applications. Many learners do not know how to apply online, how to analyse prospectus and  
how to check if they qualify for the courses available in higher institution. There is a huge need for career guidance for post matric because it is evident that many learners complete grade 12 without knowing the careers they want to embark in.  

The winner of the Youth Day Essay Competition is Sihle Phindzi, a young vibrant girl from Krugersdorp, Gauteng. Her essay answered all the questions and followed all the guidelines of  
writing an essay. Sihle’s essay stood out and impressed the entire AcaNet team. Her essay is a full package which raises the issues the youth is facing such as unemployment and what I love about the essay is that it also addresses the same problems the youth is facing such as encouraging the youth to start businesses. The essay points out the issues of racism, discrimination, corruption, crime and nepotism. The essay points out the learning environments the young people are exposed to such as overcrowded classrooms, shortage of classes, tables, chairs and textbooks. She raises the question that are we truly free? Do we get enough academic information and resources? Regardless of all the  
challenges the young people are facing they always strive and come up on top. We have learners that obtain distinctions but they come from disadvantaged homes and schools.  

“The youth can empower themselves by creating their own opportunities, by helping one another to reach to the top and the youth can start as early as in high school to research the available  
opportunities for them to be ahead” This line stood out for me because it talks about empowerment which is something the youth needs. Yes young people should start creating their own opportunities by starting small businesses, by using their God given talents, by discovering what they enjoy doing , by spotting every opportunity be it providing a service, planting people’s hair, selling scones and doing laundry for people. The youth should learn to help one another and not be selfish. Selfish I mean being corrupt and want all the money to yourself. The youth should learn to use the social media platform to research opportunities such as available bursaries and learnerships and again to get knowledge about investments and saving the little money they get. 

It has been an amazing journey working with the young people and we hope we will reach as many people as we can. We hope to bring accurate academic information into one space. It has been a  great experience running this competition because it allowed us to get a chance to hear the views and opinions of the young people in South Africa. We hope this youth month will open doors and opportunities for many young people. 

Happy Youth Month 

AcaNet Team ❤


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