A future by the next generation

Thursday, February 26, 2015

By Deputy Minister in the Presidency Buti Manamela                                                

We have entered the most exciting phase of the youth development policy process: engaging with the people whom it matters the most for—young people.

We believe young people must voice their opinions on the South Africa they want to live in and the country they want for their children. It is against that backdrop that we launched a consultative process late last year to invite all sectors of society, more especially young people, to make inputs into the kind of policy they would like to see for young people going forward.

We have thus been to hundreds of meetings and engaged with thousands of young people about what is now dubbed the National Youth Policy (NYP) 2020.

The policy drafting process was equally exciting, taking into consideration the National Development Plan 2030, the Industrial policy Action Plan, the New Growth Path and the African Youth Charter.

These NYP 2020 covers areas such as access to education, skills, competence development, employment and sustainable livelihoods, youth leadership and participation, health and welfare, peace and security, environment protection and cultural and moral values.

The current draft improves upon and updates the previous policy, signed in 2009 by the late Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, by speaking to new and continuing challenges faced by South Africa’s youth.

It does not reinvent the wheel but rather uses lessons learnt from the previous NYP to create an environment that enables the youth to unleash their potential by identifying those mechanisms that will make this possible.

Furthermore the draft is a strategic document meant for the entire youth sector and will consequently offer a set of policy priorities and recommendations that will turn the general concept of youth development into action.

But these are not the defining legislative, plan and policy frameworks that breathe life into the NYP 2020.

The students at the University of the Western Cape who stayed on until 10 pm during the consultative meeting there are what will breathe life into the NYP 2020.

It is the teenagers in Mount Ayliff, the young boys and girls in Emfuleni in the Western Cape or the youth political formations that we met throughout the consultation process that would make good of the NYP 2020.

All of these are indicative that just as the NDP relies on young people as the cornerstone of its realization, the NYP 2020 would be theirs to take forward.

The NYP 2020 identifies poverty, inequality and unemployment as the main challenges that face our youth. It further declares that for us to resolve these three major challenges we must get young people educated, skilled, and fully support their entrepreneurial ideas.

With young people between the ages of 14-35 constituting more than half of the population, and affected by socio-economic problems in our country, it begs no explanation why President Jacob Zuma has prioritized youth development so seriously in his second term in government.

The President has also made it clear that both Minister Jeff Radebe and I would take overall responsibility for oversight, monitoring and evaluation, policy and mainstreaming of youth development.

This means that government’s overall intervention should be geared to resolve the youth question, and requires co-ordination in the highest office of the land.

We committed a legislative error when we implicitly made the NYDA some form of youth government, making it responsible for everything under the sun as long as it affects young people.

That is about to change. Post the NYP 2020 I will be submitting amendments to the NYDA Act to streamline its focus on core functions of youth development, which are, youth enterprise and national youth service.

Countries such as Kenya and Namibia are doing much better in both areas, and therefore we have to learn a lot in ensuring that we turn young work seekers into creators of work by taking lessons from these countries.

I have already instructed the NYDA to streamline its functions to focus on this key areas and become the lead government agency on youth development.

This does not mean that they will stop with their Second Chances Programme for Matric Results or the Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship Programme, but that these will be strengthened in partnership with specific line function departments.

We are already in discussion with the Ministry of Economic Development to make an assessment of both the Youth Employment Accord and the Youth Employment Incentive.

There are various targets that are set in the NYP 2020 which are in line with the Medium Term Strategy Framework and the NDP 2030. We will be expecting that all spheres of government and departments and state agencies integrate these targets into their annual performance plans.

The Ministry of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, together with the Presidency, are better placed to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the NYP 2020.

This means that post the unveiling of the Integrated Youth Development Strategy, which is the implementation plan of the NYP 2020, all institutions of government would be required to report on a quarterly basis on whether we are meeting all these targets.

South Africa’s concept of youth development is influenced by the historical conditions that have shaped the country and its democratic goals.

Even in my late youth, I personally envision a future where young people - irrespective of their race, gender, religious affiliation, level of education or socio-economic status - will enjoy an equitable share of South Africa’s success story. The review of the NYP 2020 is the stepping stone towards this better future.

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