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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


STEYN, M G  and  KAMPER, G D. Future expectations amongst the youth of the brown population group in South Africa. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2009, vol.49, n.4, pp.688-704. ISSN 2224-7912.

The brown population in South Africa is not only faced with numerous social, economic and political challenges but also experiences a lack of collective identity. Hendricks (2005:118) points out that the origin of the brown population group can be traced back to historical social atrocities like slavery, murder and rape. The collective identity of the brown population is often shrouded in a lack of self-confidence and psychological empowerment, which left them over the years without any significant economic or political power (Adhikari 2002:123). During the Apartheid dispensation, two measures in particular had a devastating effect on the brown population group, namely the Group Areas Act (South Africa 1950) and the Act on the Separate Representation of Voters (South Africa 1951). By means of the former, many people of colour were forced to move to other, separate and often second rate residential areas, whilst the latter resulted in far reaching political marginalisation. High expectations that this situation would change after 1994 were gradually but surely disappointed. The coloured population group's feelings of marginality - and of betrayal amongst some disillusioned former supporters of the anti-apartheid movement - have since been exacerbated by a perceived loss of status in the new South Africa. Over the years, sociologists have busied themselves with the question about the extent to which an uncertain sense of identity contributes to social problems which manifest in violence and crime. Concerning the brown population group, such a link seems to have been established with considerable certainty (Williams 2002; Laubscher 2003). Compared to other population groups, the incidence of social problems is actually the highest amongst brown people (Laubscher 2003). Ideally, the youth strives for a future in which they can live, work and contribute as full-fledged citizens towards the development of their country. Such a future perspective is educationally of high relevance, because it is a significant factor in the motivation to learn. In view of the brown population group's continued precarious position, the following research question was formulated: To what extent are brown adolescents sceptical about their future in South Africa? Grade 12 learners would have been the ideal target group for this research since they are on the brink of stepping into the future. However, since principals generally do not wish the academic programme of Grade 12 learners to be disturbed, the study focused on Grade 11 learners in the assumption that the data gained from this group would not be significantly different. After an initial focus group interview with a Grade 11 group to identify main themes and categories, these were used to develop a questionnaire for wider use in a questionnaire survey. The schools involved were purposively selected in order to acquire data from semi-urban and urban settings in which the brown population group is strongly represented, or the majority. The questionnaires were personally delivered and collected, and a response rate of nearly 100% could thus be achieved. In view of the already mentioned identity search and related problems, it was assumed that this would be reflected in a rather negative outlook on the future amongst the youth of the brown population group. Contrary to this expectation the foremost research conclusion was that the respondents held a predominantly positive view on their future in South Africa. This finding bodes well for the learning motivation of brown adolescents, and for the social upliftment and positive self-concept of South Africa's brown population group.

Keywords : Youth; adolescents; future expectations; brown population group; social problems; crime; South Africa.

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