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17 June 2020

HSRC and partners to study the impact of COVID-19 on young people

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

Pretoria, Tuesday 16 June 2020 – Aimed to co-incide with Youth Month 2020 and to focus attention on the impact of COVID-19 on young people in particular, the Department of Science and Innovation’s Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) will, with a range of partners, undertake two studies looking at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on young people.

The first survey will be done in collaboration with Higher Health, which works on behalf of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).  It will be done under the banner, “Social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic among Post-School Education and Training (PSET) Sector youth in South Africa.”

Alongside this survey, and with the University of Cape Town’s (UCT’s) Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU), and other partners, the HSRC will conduct a survey entitled  “Social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic among young people Not in Tertiary Education in South Africa.”

Minister of Higher Education, Science, Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande reflecting on these surveys and their anticipate outcomes said, “The world has now been living with COVID-19 for at least seven months.  Thousands of people have succumbed to the virus and many more are diagnosed on a daily basis throughout the world.  While the impact of the virus on the health care and employment sectors are already quite obvious, we do not have a strong picture of how this virus affects young people.  The HSRC and its partners will therefore undertake these surveys to specifically understand this, which will help to inform South Africa’s interventions in this regard.”

CEO of Higher Health, Dr Ramneek Ahluwalia says that, “As the national agency that develops and implements a range of health, wellness and psychosocial services across 420 campus sites and rural, informal and urban settings in all 52 districts across South Africa, it is important to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has, and continues to, impact on young people.  This may occur in respect of their studies and future employment plans but also in terms of how this has impacted on their families and communities.  We are therefore very excited about this survey and look forward to the outcomes which will be used to inform our health and wellness interventions amongst young people.”

Associate Professor Ariane De Lannoy, Chief Researcher on Youth at UCT’s SALDRU said, “Youth unemployment is a serious issue in South Africa and one that must receive the attention, and more importantly, evidence based interventions from all stakeholders.  While this survey occurs against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be many outcomes and insights which will inform how South Africa responds to the issue of youth unemployment more decisively.”

Professor Priscilla Reddy, the HSRC’s Deputy Executive Director: Human and Social Capabilities Division says, “The HSRC has concluded a range of successful surveys on the impact of COVID-19 on South Africans in general.  We have not however yet looked at how this pandemic is impacting on young people, who are an important constituency because they can also transmit the virus unknowingly.  We therefore need to understand what young people know about COVID-19, how they are responding to the pandemic, their coping behaviours and how the virus is impacting on their day to day lives.”

The surveys are expected to run from 16 – 30 June 2020 and will be conducted using the Moya Messaging platform which will be data free.

These surveys aim to, amongst others:

  1. Gather knowledge, attitudes and behaviours, including fears, of young people regarding the COVID-19 epidemic;
  2. Explore young people’s perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on education and learning especially the disruption of the academic calendar due to lockdown; and
  3. Explore young people’s perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on employment opportunities, delayed graduations and economic inclusion among the youth.

Survey Designs
Both surveys will be quantitative online based cross sectional studies and will be conducted amongst young South Africans between the ages of 18 – 35 years old across the country’s nine (9) provinces. 

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For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:
Manusha Pillai
Mobile:  082 389 3587


About the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The HSRC was established in 1968 as South Africa’s statutory research agency and has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities on the African continent, doing cutting-edge public research in areas that are crucial to development.


Our mandate is to inform the effective formulation and monitoring of government policy; to evaluate policy implementation; to stimulate public debate through the effective dissemination of research-based data and fact-based research results; to foster research collaboration; and to help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences.


The Council conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific research for public sector users, non-governmental organizations and international development agencies. Research activities and structures are closely aligned with South Africa’s national development priorities.


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