A celebration of youth activism

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Government on Tuesday officially launched the 2019 Youth Month - which is set to celebrate the role played by young people during the struggle for liberation.

The month, which will be celebrated under the theme: ‘25 Years of Democracy: A celebration of youth activism’ will be used, amongst others, to empower and facilitate conversations with the youth on the achievements and progress made in youth development.

The launch was held at the Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum in Soweto. 

Youth month is also directed towards successfully tackling the challenges of combating poverty, unemployment and bringing economic freedom to the youth. 

Executive Chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), Sifiso Mtsweni, said the theme speaks not only to celebrating past youth achievements but also looks forward to what is currently happening in the country with regard to youth development. 

“We are proud to say that the youngest Member of Parliament is 20-years-old. We applaud the government for listening to young people.”

Mtsweni announced that the NYDA will be launching a compulsory National Youth Service Programme on June 13.

The programme, he said, will strengthen service delivery, build patriotism, promote nation-building, foster social cohesion and assist the youth to acquire occupational skills necessary to access sustainable livelihood opportunities.

New NYDA offices

“After the 14 of June, we are going to see a South Africa that we (as young people) envisage. Young people, your days of unemployment are coming to an end.”

In order to ensure that youth have access to their services - Mtsweni said they will be opening new NYDA Offices in Mthatha, Umhlab'uyalingana, George, Beaufort West and Ekurhuleni.

He noted that the agency is not reaching its full potential due to its limited funding.

“The reason why we taking time to reach more young people is because of funding constraints,” he said, pleading with the new administration to increase their funding.

Mtsweni also reflected on other inroads made in youth empowerment such as the removal of work experience as an entry-level requirement for jobs.

He added that Solomon Mahlangu's name continues to live through the NYDA which has through the Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu Scholarship Fund produced over 500 graduates.

“We are taking care of youth because a nation, a country, that does not value the youth, does not deserve its future."

Economic transformation

Newly appointed to the portfolio - Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities – Maite Nkoana Mashabane said government will address the challenges faced by the youth.

“Youth activism will take the centre stage of the Youth Month programme whose theme challenges young people to play their part and address socio-economic issues in our country,” she said, noting that the programme will continue to be a focus for the new administration.

The Minister went on to challenge the NYDA to continue championing for economic transformation and empower youth to be employers and not just job seekers. 

Gauteng MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture, Mbali Hlophe, echoed the same sentiments, saying the Gauteng provincial government will focus on inculcating the culture of entrepreneurship among young people.

Promote indigenous languages

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthwtwa for his part called on the youth to use the month to promote indigenous languages, adding that this will be important in advancing the country’s knowledge and recognition of its history.

“Let us ensure that we deepen the conversations in our societies. Government took a decision that history- our own history - should be compulsory in our education system. This is important. We should always remember who we are and where we come from. We must acknowledge the role of those who came before us.

“It is time that history becomes compulsory. Now history is going to be taught; Swahili is going to be taught so that we connect with our brothers and sisters in the continent,” the Minister said.

Youth, who benefited from the NYDA's funding, such as Elizabeth Nchabeng, who was funded for her business in the beauty industry, encouraged the youth to take up the opportunities available.

“There are opportunities out there. The NYDA does not [require you to pay them any money] for them to process your Grant Funding application.”

Youth Month pays tribute to the school pupils, who lost their lives during the 16 June 1976 uprising, in Soweto. - SAnews.gov.za