The importance of investing in young democrats; Academy applications open

Democracy Works Academy (DWA), a civic education and dialogue programme to support young people, officially opened applications on 8 April 2019. DWA is run by Democracy Works Foundation (DWF) in partnership with In Transformation Initiative (ITI).

The Academy will develop the capacities and networks of individuals who are committed to building an accountable and responsive values-based South Africa. The DWA is a response to the realization that there is a critical need to equip young people with the necessary tools required to strengthen democracy with the objective that they will go on to serve as responsible leaders within the spheres of government, civil society, business and in their communities.

The future of South Africa – and Africa at-large – undoubtedly depends upon increasing the number of young people within positions of leadership. Africa’s youth constitute a large share of the total population, with over 226 million young people being between the ages of 15 and 24 years old. This large youth demographic creates a need not only for policies to engage youth effectively, but also for the involvement of youth in policymaking in all aspects of development. UNICEF’s Generation 2030 Africa report, examining the demographic trends on the continent, further underscores that the child population is set to rise by two thirds, to almost a billion children by 2050. These statistics evidently indicate that Africa’s population is a young one and that more should be done to harness the continent’s emerging youth demographic dividend beyond policy discussions.

The reality remains however that young people remain on the side-lines with no real effort from certain spheres of society to include this group of people at the decision-making table. We see this in the lack of representation of young people in key positions within Parliament, Academia and Civil Society. South Africa will celebrate twenty-five years of democracy on 27th April 2019. A key aspect of this celebration must be to engage young people on how South Africa’s democratic dispensation and the decisions made during the CODESA period – have affected their lives in terms of education, healthcare, poverty & income inequality as well as on issues related to social justice and land. Against this backdrop, the Parliamentary Monitoring Group has indicated that the number of young people who have registered to vote in the May 2019 general elections has declined substantially in comparison to the 2014 elections, despite population growth. While the reasons are unclear, this could prove detrimental to South Africa’s democracy, which must remain robust and engaged with those who are impacted by it the most.

Seeking to undermine apathy the Academy will recruit a diverse group of young South Africans in terms of location, gender, language, culture, ethnicity and race with the intent of providing appropriate civic tools that participants can use to engage and respond to challenges in our democracy. Participants will develop an increased awareness of their role and the role of public and private institutions in developing an equitable and inclusive South Africa. By connecting this cohort of thirty young people, the Academy shall build a strong network of individuals driven by similar goals that will filter into all sectors of society in order to uphold accountability, integrity, honour and ethical practice.

Democracy needs democrats to flourish and grow!


Registrations for Democracy Works Academy are now open!


To see if you are eligible for the DW Academy, please click here.

   Registrations will close at CoB on 26 April.

Noxolo was part of the founding class of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls and an alumnus of the South Africa-Washington International Program (SAWIP) where she interned at the United States Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds an MSc in African Studies from the University of Oxford where she also served as co-chair of the 2018 Oxford Africa Conference. She is currently pursuing a second Master’s degree in Politics from the University of the Witwatersrand.

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