Change the world

Student Governance and Development

Why the Annual Youth Development Convention?

“Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo
The wave of change in society and in the higher education sector over the last few years calls for deep reflections and compels us to re-examine the content and pace of change. This manifests itself mainly in four phenomena:
1. Rapid technological adoption, popularly known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0;
2. High volatility, unpredictability, a complex world with many, often contradictory, variables at play, and ambiguous challenges;
3. High levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality, all in the midst of opulence that has never been seen before; and
4. A disconnect between public institutions and the broader development imperatives of society. In her inaugural address, Nelson Mandela University’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sibongile Muthwa, made a critical observation that “we are a world, a continent and a nation in transition. Both the higher education sector and our University are also in a state of change. We, as Nelson Mandela University, stand on the threshold of the next exciting stage of our evolution. It is up to us to define the trajectory we take into the future in the context of national, continental and global challenges”. Mandela University believes that “higher education plays a major role in the development of a vibrant society and is key to delivering the knowledge requirements for development that will enhance the quality of life for all citizens”. The University has set itself a compelling vision of becoming a dynamic, African university recognised for its leadership in generating cutting-edge knowledge for a sustainable future. The African Development Bank makes an important assertion that the “youth are Africa’s greatest asset.” In support of the idea of taking advantage of the demographic dividend, Ashford (2007)proposes that, “Africa’s young people will be the driving force behind economic prosperity in future decades, but only if policies and programs are in place to enhance their opportunities and encourage smaller families.” The African Youth Charter declares that “Africa’s greatest resource is its youthful population and that through their active and full participation, Africans can surmount the difficulties that lie ahead [and recognizes that] … youth are partners, assets and a prerequisite for sustainable development and for the peace and prosperity of Africa with a unique contribution to make to the present and to future development”. Against this backdrop, the Convention aims to achieve the following outcomes:
• Development and publication annually of a youth development index for South Africa, reflecting on progress made in evolving youth development in the country.
• Establishment and sustenance of a youth research laboratory on youth development theory and praxis, generating and propagating ideas and knowledge for youth development through mobilising and activating young people as the centre of this enterprise.
The Convention will achieve its objectives and outcomes through creating and sustaining an ecosystem of networks of organisations (private, public or civic) and individuals that play in the youth development space. This network should be connected to youth and be activated to support the ideas and projects of young people.
Finally, the work of the Convention will be anchored on the pillars of the National Youth Policy 2020. Its work will take the form of collaboration with the actors in the youth development space as no single actor has the capability to overcome the complex challenges facing young people in the country
and continent. “After climbing a great hill. One only finds that there are many more hills to climb…action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
Lori S. Ashford, Africa’s Youthful Population: Risk Or Opportunity? (2007)


Who should attend?

  • Student Representative Council members
  • Student leaders
  • Executive members of societies and organisation
  • Leaders at residences (On-campus and off-campus)
  • Students active in youth development


For more information contact: 

Asanda Penkese 

Student Governance & Development Secretary

Tell: 041 504 3351