Education, entrepreneurship crucial for youth economic emancipation

Friday, June 16, 2023

Government will leverage efforts it has made to improve education from the foundation phase and entrepreneurship skills to drive the much-needed youth economic development.

This is according to Deputy President Paul Mashatile who led the National Youth Day commemoration in Mangaung, in the Free State on Friday.

He said government has placed the education and training of youngsters at the top of its agenda.

“We believe that education is one of the most crucial enabling factors for attaining economic emancipation.”

The Deputy President delivered his keynote address virtually due to extreme weather conditions that made it impossible for air transportation to the venue.

This year’s commemoration focuses on “accelerating youth economic emancipation for a sustainable future”.

Over the years, he said leaders invested enormously toward a transformed education system.

“We will continue to invest in the development of an inclusive education system in which children from low-income and working-class families also have access to quality education from the foundation phase and at higher education levels.”

He also noted the investment in the modernisation of the delivery of education.

This, according to the Deputy President, will ensure the curriculum is responsive to the rising demand for skilled labour, high-speed internet access, and innovation.

He said he was pleased that the Department of Basic Education system has introduced robotics and coding subjects at the foundation phase of learning.

“This will improve reading for meaning and understanding of concepts at an early phase and thereby give young children a strong foundation for the future.”

The department has also introduced a system to ensure learners can also choose the vocational or occupational stream, while the sector is also introducing 13 new vocational disciplines.

Meanwhile, the Deputy President raised concerns that the country’s economy is not expanding at a rate that permits the economic development of a large number of people, especially the youth.

“It is for this reason that we are committing to accelerating youth economic emancipation for a sustainable future.”


Through the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) grant programme, he said government was providing young entrepreneurs with access to both financial and non-financial business development support to enable them to establish or grow their businesses.

For instance, the initiative funded 2 320 youth and youth-owned enterprises in the past, while 34 209 were supported with non-financial development interventions and 6 796 jobs were created.

In honour of the 1976 youth, the country’s second-in-command said the state has developed a system that is conducive to learning and has the prospect of going to higher education training institutions.

“We are aware that economic independence is only attainable if we work together. Today’s youth must draw inspiration from the youth of the past, who also demonstrated the magnitude and power of young people when they are united to combat social injustices”.

He told the attendees that the majority of the population is comprised of youth and that it was crucial that all sectors of society collaborate in equipping the youth with the skills for collective prosperity.

“If we fail to do so, we would have failed South Africa's future, as young people represent the future, and it is our responsibility to secure it.”

To date, he said the Youth Employment Service, known as YES, has placed over 100 000 South Africans between the ages of 18 and 29 in local businesses for a year of work experience.

Meanwhile, of the people involved in the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention, 83% are youth, while 1.2 million people participated since the launch in 2020.

The Department of Small Business Development has also helped 35 000 young people secure non-financial support to scale up their enterprises.

He called on the private sector to set targets for the number of employment and support for the youth.

“As you are all aware, young people are yearning for socioeconomic chances, and South Africa will only grow stronger if we continue to provide opportunities to our youth.”

He also extended his best wishes to the South African National Netball Team, as Cape Town will host the tournament for the first time in Africa next month.

“We believe that when we give the youth a hand-up, you enable them to see something inside themselves that they did not previously see.

“The goal is to make sure that young people see a chance that didn't exist before and know that they can do more than they thought they could before,” he added. –