South Africa’s Black Brain Drain

Subashni Naidoo, Times Live (Johannesburg), April 25, 2010

Almost half of South Africa’s middle-class black teenagers plan to flee the country for greener pastures.

Unscrupulous politicians, escalating crime, poor employment prospects and low education standards are behind a growing desire among the country’s black youth to leave.

In contrast, only 33% white and Indian youth want to go, reflecting a hardening of attitudes among black youngsters who have increasingly lost confidence in government.

The latest national BratTrax study conducted by research group Youth Dynamix reveals that although most black teenagers between 13 and 15 want to stay put, 42% are disillusioned and plan to leave as soon as they can.

The study, conducted this year, included face-to-face interviews with 900 youngsters aged seven to 15 in eight of the nine provinces.

While previous research showed that this group were positive about the developments in government and believed they would benefit, they had now lost confidence in their leaders.

“They are questioning our leaders and their capabilities. They are feeling disillusioned,” said research director Andrea Kraushaar.

Reflecting views similar to their white and Indian counterparts, 71% of black youth felt it was impossible to get employment in South Africa; 58% said crime made them want to live in another country, and 73% felt government was not living up to its promises.

Professor Lawrence Schlebusch, an expert in behavioural medicine, said his research of stress and suicidal behaviour showed that stress levels were incredibly high among youth.

“They tend to experience alienation from their own value systems and the main reason for this is because they had great expectations of the new South Africa and these expectations are not being met.

“It is much harder for them now. They are finding it more difficult to get into university, the unemployment rate is far higher and there seems to be more and more polarisation,” said Schlebusch.

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