On this page, we state three factors that may contribute to the youth being hesitant to conduct themselves as responsible citizens:

Three factors that may contribute to youth hesitancy in conducting themselves as responsible citizens include:

  1. Lack of Education and Awareness: Young people may not fully understand their roles and responsibilities as citizens due to a lack of proper civic education. Schools and communities might not sufficiently educate youth about the importance of civic duties such as voting, volunteering, and participating in community activities. This gap in education can lead to apathy or a sense of detachment from societal issues.
  2. Disillusionment with Political and Social Systems: Many young individuals feel disillusioned with their political and social systems, particularly if they perceive them as corrupt, inefficient, or unresponsive to their needs and the needs of their communities. This disillusionment can deter them from engaging in civic activities or believing that their contributions can lead to meaningful change.
  3. Economic and Social Challenges: Economic hardships, such as unemployment or underemployment, can prioritize immediate survival and personal advancement over civic responsibilities. Additionally, social challenges, such as discrimination or lack of representation in political and civic spaces, can discourage engagement. Young people facing these barriers may feel that they are not part of the broader societal fabric, leading to decreased motivation to act as responsible citizens.

Lack of Education and Awareness

Supporting Argument: A foundational understanding of civic responsibilities is crucial for fostering responsible citizenship among youth. Studies show that enhanced civic education correlates strongly with increased civic engagement. For instance, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) reports that young people who receive high-quality civic education are more likely to vote and participate in political processes.


  1. School Curriculum: Integrating comprehensive civic education programs in schools that cover the rights and duties of citizens, the workings of government, and the importance of participation in democracy.
  2. Community Workshops: Local community centers or organizations conducting workshops and seminars that engage youth in discussions about current societal issues and their role in addressing them.
  3. Interactive Platforms: Use of digital platforms to create interactive learning experiences about civic duties, such as virtual town halls, quizzes on civic knowledge, and simulations of democratic processes.

Disillusionment with Political and Social Systems

In South Africa, disillusionment among the youth with political and social systems often stems from a perceived gap between expectations and the reality of governmental performance. This sense of disillusionment is exacerbated by prevalent issues such as corruption, a lack of transparency, and ineffective governance. Research from the South African Institute of Race Relations (2020) indicates that trust in government is waning, with a significant portion of the youth feeling disconnected from the political process, reflecting a broader trend of dissatisfaction and disengagement from civic activities.


  1. Youth Inclusion Programs: Initiatives like the establishment of a Youth Development Agency to better integrate young South Africans into the political dialogue and address their specific needs and concerns.
  2. Transparency Campaigns: Campaigns and programs aimed at increasing government transparency, such as the promotion of open parliament sessions and the publication of government audits and spending to the public.
  3. Civic Education Enhancement: Strengthening civic education specifically tailored to South Africa’s context in schools and universities to bridge the gap between youth expectations of democracy and their understanding of how they can influence it effectively.

Economic and Social Challenges

Supporting Argument: Economic instability and social barriers significantly affect young people’s ability to participate as active citizens. The United Nations Development Programme highlights that unemployment and socio-economic instability are major barriers to civic engagement among youth, as immediate financial survival often takes precedence over other activities.


  1. Employment Programs: Creation of government or community-initiated employment programs targeted at young people, which can provide the financial stability needed to engage in civic activities.
  2. Inclusion Efforts: Efforts to ensure that all segments of the youth population are represented and heard in civic forums, such as initiatives aimed at increasing minority participation in politics.
  3. Civic Engagement Grants: Financial grants or stipends for young people engaging in civic projects or community service, to support them in overcoming economic barriers to participation.

By addressing these factors through targeted educational programs, creating more inclusive and transparent governance structures, and providing economic and social support, society can encourage more young individuals to embrace their roles as responsible citizens.

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