n Commonwealth Youth and Development - Mitigating vulnerability : non-formal education for refugee youths in South Africa




This article proposes non-formal education (NFE) programmes as an important strategy for making refugee youths less vulnerable. NFE has the potential to ensure that young people are useful to both themselves and their host country. For the past 20 years, ethnic, political and socioeconomic conflicts have brought instability to a number of African countries. This has resulted in the mass movement of millions of youths across borders to escape compulsory conscription, starvation and death. Stable countries on the continent have thus become safe havens for most refugee youths, with South Africa receiving more than its share of refugees from conflict zones. Since 1994, when the country returned to the international community, South Africa has opened its doors to thousands of asylum seekers: most of these are youths with little or no formal education and training. Their lack of knowledge and skills not only makes them vulnerable, but also difficult to integrate into the socioeconomic culture of the host country. The article advocates equipping refugee youths with basic knowledge and skills through non-formal education programmes, to enable them to create work, increase their self-confidence and dignity, and empower them to play a meaningful role in South Africa's socioeconomic development. The article points out that ignoring uneducated, unskilled and unemployable refugee youths may not be in the best socioeconomic interest of the host country.


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