Original Research

Mechanisms for inspiring action in South African youth

Cara E. Waller, Philippa Wheaton, Natasha Asbury
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 4, No 1 | a120 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v4i1.120 | © 2016 Cara E. Waller, Philippa Wheaton, Natasha Asbury | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 February 2015 | Published: 30 November 2016

About the author(s)

Cara E. Waller, Enke: Make Your Mark, South Africa
Philippa Wheaton, Enke: Make Your Mark, South Africa
Natasha Asbury, Enke: Make Your Mark, South Africa


Many young people in South Africa are in the process of transforming their country. To positively contribute to the development agenda, young people need the skills and capacity to bring about change and set themselves apart as leaders. This retrospective, mixed-method evaluation study provides insight into the multi-level mechanisms that allow young South Africans opportunities to grow personally and to take action on issues of significance.  Results show that development of three non-cognitive competencies (grit, growth mindset, and self-efficacy) was integral to starting (and finishing) a social action project. Social support, social capital and teamwork were also critical mechanisms – while school location, socioeconomic status and gender were not. Non-cognitive competency development is integral to this research as there is evidence that building these skills promotes leadership which creates a bias to action.  This article reflects on the implications for effective youth development program design and the youth leadership sector more generally.


Youth Development


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