Definition of Youth

South Africa’s National Youth Policy, as well as its National Youth Commission Act and its Integrated Youth Development Strategy (draft 1, 2), defines youth as 14 to 35 years of age.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • 18
  • 18

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
From 10-14 years old, the state must prove criminal capacity. A child below 10 cannot be held responsible for their actions. Source:  Child Justice Act

Majority Age


Source: Wikipedia

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 98.65% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.39% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 57.96%Male %
  • 64.57% Female %

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 29.30% Male (13-15) %
  • 20.10% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The national youth policy covers 2015-2020 and replaces the 2009-2014 version.

The National Youth Commission (NYC) Act (1996) established the NYC as the statutory body responsible for youth policy. It was replaced by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), established by Act No. 54 of 2008. The Integrated Youth Development Strategy (IYDS) (draft 12) seeks to streamline youth economic development, integrating policies such as the National Industrial Policy Framework (NIPF) with the National Youth Policy. It is also linked to the National Youth Service Policy Framework, which promotes youth volunteering as a way for youth to contribute to development, build skills and develop abilities. Both the NYP and IYDS (draft 12) are influenced by the National Youth Development Policy Framework 2002-2007. In 2009, South Africa also ratified the African Youth Charter.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) is the main government agency responsible for youth. It advocates for the mainstreaming of youth development in all governmental spheres at the policy level, and delivers services; implementing and facilitating youth development programmes.  The National Youth Policy states that the Youth Desk in The Presidency is responsible for coordinating youth development. The Youth Desk is attached to the Deputy Minister in the Presidency responsible for planning, monitoring and evaluation (source.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The South African Youth Council (SAYC) was founded in 1997 and is an autonomous, non-partisan umbrella association for youth organisations. According to its 2010 report South African Youth Council: Towards a Coordinated and Integrated Youth Development, it is governed by a National Executive Committee comprised of Provincial Chairpersons and Secretaries. SAYC represents youth in forums including the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC), the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), and the National Skills Authority (NSA).

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
ZAR 393 million
USD 40 million
The 2013 National Budget for the Presidency states that the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) will receive ZAR 393 million (USD 40 million) for 2013/14. According to the World Bank, South Africa spent 19.20% of its government expenditure and 5.98% of its GDP on education provision in 2010.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank

Additional Background

From the National Youth Policy (2009):

In the South African context, youth work is originally predominantly practised by FBOs and community-based organisations (CBOs). There is, however, currently an increasing demand and consequently for the practice of youth work in the public sector. There are currently institutions of higher learning, which offer education and training for youth workers. However, the qualification is just academic since this field is not yet recognised as a profession. Moreover, there is no uniformity in the curriculum due to a lack of uniform unit standards.

In practice, those practising youth work do not have similar qualifications and competencies. There is a shortage of skilled personnel, lack of financial resources and disparities in practice as well as education and training. The consequence is that the youth-serving organisations or agencies do not always have the resources to facilitate total development of young people as well as improving the skills and capabilities of youth workers. There is a need for research in the area of youth work.

From South African Youth Council: Towards a Coordinated and Integrated Youth Development (2010):

SAYC existed in the Western Cape before but due to a myriad of reasons which include inter-alia but not limited, resources and capacity, due to mounting challenges in our province and a lack of co- ordination of civil society youth organizations the youth sector has been weakened as such many organizations operate in silos equally there’s no authentic youth voice in this province, as such there’s no proper lobbying and advocacy in making sure that issues affecting young people find expression in government programs and that youth development is mainstreamed within government departments.

The Youth civil society in the Western Cape has been relatively weak in the past few years; indeed there were structures at the provincial level assigned to take care of the interests of young people in the province, However these structures became ineffective because they were too political and not representative of all sectors organizing young people hence they became a battle field for those who had political differences in their political organizations. Equally some saw these structures as quick money making schemes to advance their self-centered interests at the expense of helpless young people who find themselves outside the mainstream of the economy.