Defence helps youth study, enlist in SANDF

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pretoria - The Department of Defence will be in the Maluti and Matatiele villages on Monday recruiting youngsters to serve in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

The department through its Military Skills Development System (MSDS), is looking at giving youngsters who achieved good marks in school but have been unable to further their studies at tertiary institutions or had to drop out due to financial constraints a chance.

The MSDS is aimed at rejuvenating the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), providing it with scarce skills as well as serving as a feeder system for the Defence Reserves.

The system will in turn, improve the rank-age profile of the SANDF.

During the department's tour in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape where hundreds of youth packed the Umthatha Town Hall to enlist with the SANDF on Friday, 21-year-old Sifundo Zwelakhe said he was happy about the prospects of going back to university to finish his degree and helping the department at the same time.

Mr Zwelakhe was forced to drop out of his studies at Walter Sisulu University where he was pursuing a career in quantity surveying when his parents ran out of funds.

"My parents did everything possible to help me but eventually, I had to pack my bags and return home without any qualification. I couldn't have been more disappointed."

However, he met the requirements of the MSDS and will now be able to return to school.

The department's nation-wide MSDS marketing tour was launched at Manguzi in northern KwaZulu-Natal a month ago.

It is largely focused on rural areas, attracting talented young people into the scarce skills professions such as pilots, engineers, professional health workers, naval combat officers, airspace controllers and technicians.

Like Mr Zwelakhe who achieved an A in Mathematics, the department has found many students who become part of the unemployment statistics because of lack of information.

"Our focus to the rural areas is to respond to the challenges of lack of information facing rural communities," Mr Sam Mkhwanazi, the Ministry's spokesperson said.

Ndumiso Sepepa from Umsobomvu in the Eastern Cape commended the programme, saying it brings hope to the youth of the country.

He added that a strong partnership between the department and youth structures such as Umsobomvu was important to ensure that more young people were reached.

The department's MSDS recruitment drive visited Lusikisiki and Flag Staff on Saturday and Highflats at Phungashe on Sunday.

The MSDS supports government's focus on sustainable development opportunities for South Africa's youth.

To be considered, applicants must be South African citizens and between the age of 18 and 22. One must have at least a Grade 12 certificate, preferably with good symbols in Maths and Science.

Graduate applicants can not be older than 26, must have a recognised university degree or diploma. If accepted, one must be willing to relocate and have no criminal record and comply with medical fitness.

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