Youth leadership development in South Africa: Examining Partnership Foundation’s process of preparing South African youth for leadership in a multiethnic society

Open Access
Lundy, Saadiqa Zaakiya
Graduate Program:
Applied Youth, Family, and Community Education
Master of Education
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
June 01, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Nicole Sheree Webster, Thesis Advisor
  • youth leadership development
  • simulated leadership development
  • South African youth leadership development
The purpose of this study was to understand how Partnership Foundation, a former non-profit based youth leadership development organization in South Africa, prepared South African youth for leadership in a multiethnic society. I employed qualitative case study methodology to gain a detailed and in-depth understanding of this phenomenon. Two individual interviews and four focus groups were conducted to elicit youth participants’ views on leadership and how they were applying the leadership skills learned at Eduland in their schools, communities and in other aspects of their day to day lives. After analyzing field notes and ten interview transitions, I found three emerging themes, simulated group work as the foundation for leadership development, leading through selfless service, and specific challenges to leadership. Based on these themes four key things can be inferred about the program. First, Partnership Foundation prepared youth for leadership using a multiculturalist contextual leadership approach and facilitated the participant’s development of human capital and social capital. Second, focus group participants applied the leadership skills through their leadership positions at school and through organizing events in their communities. Third, youth marginalization prevented participants from fully exercising leadership skills learned at Eduland. Lastly, the contextual leadership approach used at Eduland had its strengths, but lacked the critical perspective needed to challenge the ideological, political and structural underpinnings which maintain the status quo. A new leadership framework steeped in critical multiculturalism philosophy which exposes the deeply rooted class and race-based structural inequalities in South Africa is needed. This study holds implications for various stakeholders, policy makers, community organizers, and anyone involved in the youth development and the youth leadership development field. The limitations and strengths of the study are also discussed.