The orientation and nature of the future expectations of adolescents is of particular relevance in South Africa due to the extent of social challenges currently experienced. Media reports on crime, corruption, mismanagement, poverty and HIV/AIDS are on the rise and many hold the
view that it seems that crime has spiraled beyond control. The social contexts in which the youth build their dreams and formulate their plans concerning the future are determined by politics and the domestic affairs of the state, such as political order and the efficiency and stability of the state. Larson (2002:16-17) cautions that governmental dysfunction and violent conflict have dire consequences for adolescents and for their preparation
toward adulthood. Weak, destabilized and distracted governments are less able to provide a beneficial developmental infrastructure to children and adolescents. This prompted the research question: To what extent does a “beneficial developmental infrastructure” (see above) exist for the South African youth?
It was decided to make use of Afrikaans speaking grade 11 learners as research population for the study. This decision was based on the assumption that a negative future orientation would be strongest amongst the white and coloured Afrikaans-speaking adolescents for the following reasons: (1) The political transformation that took place in South Africa in 1994 had
a substantial impact on the white Afrikaans speaking population, in the sense that they had to abdicate political power and became a minority group; (2)There appears to be a pertinent feeling amongst the coloured Afrikaans-speaking population that their situation has not really improved in the new dispensation in South Africa. They experience discrimination re. job opportunities and political opportunities, because they are not really regarded as part of the black population, and due to the perception that they actually received preferential treatment during the apartheid years (Beeld, 2006d). This situation causes considerable bitterness, in the realisation that they have not really advanced from a minority group position. A qualitative approach was initially followed. Grade 11 learners from a large Afrikaans secondary school were probed on their future expectations. The school is multicultural with coloured and white learners and serves an affluent white community, as well as a coloured community with numerous socio-economic problems. By involving the Afrikaans language teacher, the learners had to write essays of 300 words on the topic: “My future in South Africa”.
The essays were analysed to determine the drift of, and themes on, future expectations. Useful data could be gathered and were verified by interviewing a focus group of eight learners, equally representing gender, race and positive/negative views as expressed in the essays. The themes emerging from the essays were subsequently used to compile a questionnaire for application on a larger scale, involving five secondary schools, of which three were in Pretoria (representing varying socio-economic contexts), one in the Free State province (representing a
mining community) and one in a semi-rural area of the Mpumalanga province. The research departed from the theoretical hypothesis that the extent of social problems (violent crime, corruption and mismanagement) in South Africa would have a decidedly negative impact on the local orientation of the respondents’ future plans, particularly as reflected in the
aspiration to emigrate. This hypothesis was falsified. Although the respondents realized the seriousness of inter alia HIV/AIDS, unemployment and violent crime as social problems in South Africa, it became evident that they did not generally view the extent of these problems as cause
to get away and seek their future elsewhere. OPSOMMING: Die vraag na die oriëntasie en aard van toekomsverwagting onder die jeug is besonder aktueel in
Suid-Afrika vanweë die omvang van die maatskaplike problematiek wat tans in die land heers. Die media berig met ontstellende daaglikse reëlmaat oor geweldsmisdaad, korrupsie, wanbestuur,
armoede en HIV/VIGS wat klaarblyklik buite doeltreffende beheer geraak het. Die jeug se persepsies oor hul toekoms in Suid-Afrika kan insiggewende aanduiders wees van (onder andere) die waargenome welstand van die Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing. Heel prakties is die vraag: Hoedanig
dra die maatskaplike problematiek in Suid-Afrika by tot ’n “wegkomwens” in die jeug se toekomsverwagtinge? In hierdie artikel word verslag gelewer oor die toekomsperspektiewe van die jeug in
die breë Afrikaanssprekende gemeenskap. Die fokus is as geregverdig beskou omdat (a) die
Afrikanerbevolkingsgroep spesifiek geraak is deur die politieke transformasie in Suid-Afrika vanweë die verandering in status van maghebbers na minderheidsgroep, en (b) die bruin Afrikaanssprekende gemeenskap in die nuwe politieke bedeling steeds ’n gemarginaliseerde groep is. Graad 11 leerders het by wyse van ’n fokusgroeponderhoud en ’n daaropvolgende vraelysondersoek aan die navorsing deelgeneem. As vernaamste gevolgtrekking geld dat die respondente oorwegend positief
was oor die verwesenliking van hul toekomsideale in Suid-Afrika.