Gender and Behaviour

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Delayed professionalisation of Youth Work in South Africa

Nanga Raymond Raselekoane


A critique of the challenges facing professionalization of Youth Work in South Africa, ‘Professionalization of youth work is an important and inevitable step for our future’ because ‘the need for youth workers is not going away …, as we are facing an expansion of the youth category from teenage years into twenties and thirties with a whole new series of challenges…’ especially in view of the youth bulge which South Africa is also experiencing as a developing country (Sercombe, 2004). The National Youth Development Agency (2011) also recognises ‘the need for the professionalization of Youth Work to build capacity for those responsible for provision of youth development services in South Africa.’ In view of these statements, professionalization of Youth Work in this country is also inevitable. Professionalization of Youth Work calls for mandatory training, agreed knowledge base, code of ethics, professional association and recognition in law’ (Sercombe, 2004). But, to pave way for a radical transformation of youth work and professionalization of Youth Work ‘the development of young people cannot be left to programmes of education and training alone.’ It must aim at ‘meeting broader human needs (i.e. membership and belonging, self-awareness and self-worth, independence and autonomy, closeness and affection, competence and mastery, safety and protection) of adolescents (Maunders, 1994 and Pittman, 1991). This paper will discuss the impact of lack of standardised curriculum and training, articulation for Youth Work qualifications, recognition and support for Youth Work, research output in Youth Work and the role of Youth Work associations on the process of professionalization of Youth Work in South Africa. Strategies which can address the challenges attributed to the severe stifling, disregard and marginalisation of Youth Work in this country will also be discussed.

Keywords: Youth Work, professionalization, standardisation, curriculum and research.

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