1st Edition

A Hidden History of Youth Development in South Africa Learning in Transition

By Margaret Perrow Copyright 2021
    264 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    264 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Drawing on two decades of interviews and ethnographic fieldwork (1998–2018), this book presents a unique and multi-faceted history of youth development in South Africa through the lens of a South African non-governmental organization (NGO) prominent in youth development from the mid-1980s until 2008. The book weaves history, ethnography, and discourse analysis to contextualize the Joint Enrichment Project (JEP) in the politics and history of South African education. It examines JEP’s role leading up to and during South Africa’s transition to democracy, its work and influence in post-apartheid South Africa, and the continued relevance of its legacy to contemporary initiatives seeking to address youth development and social justice.

    While JEP repeatedly repositioned itself as an organization, from fighting the effects of apartheid on young people to becoming a potential partner with the new African National Congress (ANC)-led government, its most significant role may have been to reposition people. After tracing JEP’s twenty-year history, the book focuses on the participants in a 1998 Youth Work Scheme, exploring their learning experiences and the program’s immediate impact on their lives. It then revisits these participants twenty years later in 2018, analyzing their life trajectories after JEP and comparing them with the life trajectories of former JEP staff over the same period—shedding light on broader patterns of socio-economic reproduction and change in the country. The book concludes with a discussion of a perennial paradox facing youth development institutions.

    This book will be of great interest to academics, researchers and post-graduate students in the fields of education, international development, anthropology, and African studies.

    Preface. What would our ancestors say to each other?

    Introduction. "Siyi youth endala" (We are old youth)

    Chapter 1. Learning on contested grounds: Education, resistance, and youth development

    Chapter 2. Shifting discourses, shifting identities: A history of the Joint Enrichment Project

    Chapter 3. "I better do something": The Youth Work Scheme and its participants

    Chapter 4. "Gaining skills and moving around": Repositioning at an orientation and a worksite

    Chapter 5. "I can be somebody": Negotiating identity in a deployment workshop

    Chapter 6. "A time-being thing": Participants after the Youth Work Scheme

    Chapter 7. "Too slow, too fast": Staff after the Joint Enrichment Project

    Chapter 8. "Something that can’t be lost": The Joint Enrichment Project’s legacy

    Chapter 9. "In the next future": Reflections on NGOs in South Africa


    Margaret Perrow is Professor of English and English Education at Southern Oregon University, USA.