Programme opens doors for youth

Friday, June 27, 2014
Gabi Khumalo

From the first Grade at school, it became clear that Marry-Jane Ntsiane had a learning challenge.

When she reached Grade 8, her mother told her to drop out of school as she was a “slow learner”.

And so she found herself at home doing nothing; fearing that she would never get a job because she was not educated and had no skills. But, it was a little advice from her cousin that turned out to be a blessing for Ntsiane. Her cousin told her to take part in the National Youth Development Agency’s (NYDA) Youth Build Programme.

Now, Ntsiane is one of 100 youth volunteers, who launched an initiative to build 76 houses this month through the programme. Youth Build is a community based National Youth Service Programme that offers volunteers a comprehensive programme that integrates academic achievement, work experience, leadership development, and personal transformation in a single project. The NYDA implements two types of Youth Build projects. The first one is the comprehensive model where 100 youth, all of them volunteers, spend 8 – 12 months in class and on site learning the construction trade, using the Youth Build model, adopted from Youth Build International.

The second model is done in partnership with Department of Human Settlements, where volunteers are recruited within identified communities, orientated by NYDA and then go straight to site to build houses. Once completed, the houses would be handed over to the elderly, child headed families, people with disabilities, orphans and female headed families.

The face brick houses built by the volunteers include two bedrooms, a bathroom with a flushing toilet and shower, open plan kitchen, electricity and running water.

Ntsiane, 26, says taking part in the project was a blessing as she has acquired skills to prepare her for the workplace.

“I’ve learnt a lot in this programme, they’ve taught us life skills, health and safety, brick laying as well as training in HIV/Aids.”

She encourages the youth to use such opportunities.

“Now I know what to do when I get a job and how to perform my duties. I now have practical skills and through these initiatives, more youth can play their part in the country’s economy.

“This experience has helped me gain confidence, despite my disability.”

Most volunteers in the programme are unemployed and are between the ages of 18 and 35.  They receive life skills and Job Preparedness training from NYDA and the NHBRC provides Construction SETA accredited training in building trades like plumbing, bricklaying and carpentry.

At the end of the programme, the volunteers receive CETA accredited qualifications. The NYDA links the volunteers to its products and services like cooperatives or business development, grant applications and their CV’s are uploaded into the agency’s JOBS database for further opportunities.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who recently handed over a new house in Maruping,  encouraged more young people to get involved in the programme.

“This is true patriotism and a perfect example of how together we can move South Africa forward. Together we must work hard to build a better, more caring, more equal and more prosperous nation. We have achieved much in the last 20 years. Let’s work together to achieve even more,” he said.

The Deputy President went on to say if youth unemployment can be effectively addressed – millions will be lifted out of poverty and the country’s economy will be placed on a trajectory of sustainable and inclusive growth. –

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