Government has posted a review of 25 years of democracy outlining successes and failures across various pillars.

By Riaz Moola, founder of HyperionDev

A point that has been highlighted in news coverage is that while throughput has improved at universities, only 22% of students completed their three-year degree within three years.

Sadly, this decline in education – and its inevitable effects on youth employability – have been a reality of the South African education landscape for years now.

More than ever, students are dropping out at increasing rates from programmes of all kinds. And it’s not an old-world problem than digitisation has been able to transcend, either: the diminishing effect of poor education is creating a situation where the much-hyped saviour of our time, 4IR, is seeing the lowest growth of all enrolments in private and public institutions.

Government statistics show that, since 2000, Computer and Information Sciences have seen the lowest growth in education. This shouldn’t be the case, what with the growing demand for technologically proficient employees from companies making fervent pushes towards everything online.

In fact, in our country’s greater context of joblessness, youth unemployment, and the precarious financial positions of youth looking to pursue higher education, the shock has been all but drummed out of us.

Just last month it was announced that the unemployment rate in South Africa hit 29,1%, the highest rate ever. Worse yet, youth unemployment is skyrocketing. Over half (55,2%) of all youth aged between 15 and 24 are unemployed. What’s more, these youth can’t even afford to get the education they desperately want so that they can be employable.

Government stats say that, of the youth not attending educational institutions, more than half (51%) do not have the financial means to pay for their tuition fees. People need jobs, and people need an education in preparation for the workforce. South Africa is in a precarious position that needs bold and determined solutions to address its problems.

The answer isn’t likely to come from government, who are facing a crisis of their own: spikes in the matric dropout rate even as The Department of Education cheers its reported 78,2% pass rate.

Thankfully, there are answers out there, and the government’s focus on 4IR shows the growing recognition of alternative educational models that aim to take advantage of the opportunities created by widespread digitisation.

Readers who see these stats might be shocked, but it’s my hope that the youth of South Africa realise that there are alternatives out there that will help them to build a brighter future for themselves. You don’t need to spend a quarter of a million rand and four years of your life to perhaps find a job in the South African technology sector.