This year marks the 35th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto Uprisings. With government having declared 2011 as the year of job creation, the focus of this year’s Youth Month commemoration will be on youth empowerment and participation in the country’s socio- economic activities/priorities, job creation, health, fighting crime, rural development and education. Linked to that, this year’s Youth Month will be launched under the theme “Youth Action for Economic Freedom in our Lifetime”.
Since its launch, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) has succeeded in its mandate of advancing youth development.
- The NYDA continues to enhance the participation of young people in the economy through targeted and integrated programmes with the focus on job development and has trained 171 000 youth, including 86 644 young people participating in the National Youth Service (NYS) Programme.
- In ensuring that youth have access to opportunities, the NYDA has established partnerships with municipalities in facilitating access through the establishment of local youth offices. To date, 137 branches and local youth offices have been established by the NYDA with its partners.
- With regard to the Youth Business International Programme, the NYDA has secured a partnership on microfinance and mentorship programmes which builds on the skills capacity of young people to explore possibilities beyond South Africa’s borders. The NYDA supported 31 000 young entrepreneurs with business loan finance.
- In providing youth with resources to enable them to generate sustainable business ventures, the NYDA has approved R64 429 million worth of loans to young entrepreneurs.
The NYDA has also been instrumental in facilitating the youth’s economic participation in the country.
- The NYDA has linked over 11 000 young people to job opportunities through its Jobs and Opportunities Seekers’ Database and Opportunities Seekers’ Database and sourced business opportunities worth over R64,6 million through its Business Opportunities Support Service.
- The NYS Programme includes collaboration with the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) to mainstream youth into public works projects and Youth Build International and Department of Human Settlements in the construction of houses in Ivory Park.
- To ensure skills development and economic participation, the NYDA has partnered with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the Department of Trade and Industry to facilitate the participation of young people in international trade delegations. The NYDA has also collaborated with multinational corporations such as Nestlè, which support young vendors with access to products and finance.
- Government calls on the business sector to support its job-creation efforts for young people by investing more in the education of youth and considering them for skills development, employment and procurement opportunities.
Government is committed to creating jobs for young people. Socio-economic development in rural areas prioritises the development of and job creation for youth.
- The National Rural Youth Service Corps, which forms part of the Comprehensive Rural Development Strategy, is a key government programme which addresses a key priority: rural development, land reform and food production and security.
- The NYDA is a key partner of this programme, which recruits youth from rural communities and engages them in a two-year development programme that emphasises entrepreneurship and life-skills orientation.
- Five hundred young people graduated from the programme on 6 May 2011 and will return to their respective communities to contribute to the infrastructural improvement in their localities.
- The NYDA has created and/or sustained 60 000 jobs through its various programmes, including the entrepreneurship and skills-development programmes.
Government calls on all young people to take charge of their constitutional rights and become active agents for socio-economic change.
- Through the Integrated Youth Development Strategy, government will provide guidelines to all organisations, including institutions run by youth intended to implement youth-development programmes.
- The composite development of youth also requires intellectual stimulation, creativity, innovation and a sense of self-worth and national identity in becoming active agents of socio-economic change. Government remains committed to work with young people to promote social cohesion and contribute towards nation-building.
- Youth activism is directed at successfully tackling the challenges of combating poverty, unemployment, underdevelopment, substance abuse and HIV and AIDS.
- Government has put in place various initiatives and interventions based on the foundation of a citizenry that actively contributes towards a functioning democracy, where current and future generations must lead healthy lifestyles and have access to healthy choices in becoming agents of socio-economic change.
- Government calls on all sexually active youth to take ownership and responsibility by knowing their current status and getting tested. This will enable them to make informed decisions about protecting their negative status and preventing new infections in future.
An informed and empowered legion of young people who have the skills to make career decisions is likely to improve the skills profile of the overall population and improve mobility between different levels of education and between education and the world of work.
- Government calls on all youth to take full advantage of the critical and non-negotiable activities to ensure that educators teach, learners learn, parents provide support to their children and government creates a conducive environment for learning and teaching.
- Starting from the 2011 academic year, government is incrementally introducing free education for the poor at undergraduate level. Students in Further Education and Training (FET) colleges who qualify for financial aid will be exempted completely from paying academic fees.
- While many young people have plans to enter university, there are also other options, which include training as artisans at FET colleges or registering for learnerships through the Sector Education and Training Authority system, participating in the National Skills Fund programmes, joining the South African National Defence Force as part of its Military Development Programme or participating in the EPWP.
- All youth are called into action to make education the most important priority in their lives.
- We encourage the youth to contribute towards building safer communities by volunteering their services and participating in various structures that are meant to fight crime.