Government school assistant programme changing lives

Monday, August 22, 2022

President Cyril Ramaphosa has commended the impact made by the Youth Employment Programme not only in terms of job creation but also in how it has added value in the school sector.

At the end of this month, at least 245 000 youth will complete their 10-month stint in government’s school assistant programme.

“The school assistants have either supported teachers in the classroom or performed school maintenance, security, food garden production and other upkeep activities.

“Updates sent by participants to the Department of Basic Education show the impact the initiative has had on more than 22 000 participating schools around the country. There are images of new libraries and reading corners.

“There are before-and-after pictures of barren school grounds now bursting with cabbages and of once dilapidated classrooms gleaming with new paint. There are videos of newly-trained sports enrichment coaches running exercise classes and participants at laptops doing school administration,” the President said in his weekly newsletter.

Since its launch in 2020, at least 600 000 young people have participated in the programme and according to the President, most of those young people have gone on to improve their living conditions beyond the programme.

“There are stories of young South Africans who had been struggling to find work, and now have been able to make modest extensions to their homes, start small businesses or further their studies. One young participant with a mild mental disability said that he had been surviving off a disability grant and never thought he would be considered for the programme.

“Beyond the monthly stipend, the programme has provided young people with work experience and skills. They have received accredited training across several disciplines, ranging from digital literacy to basic bookkeeping, from child and youth care to bricklaying, plastering and plumbing,” he said.

President Ramaphosa explained that following their time in the school assistant programme, government – through the Youth Employment Service – strives to place participants in “work experience positions” in the private sector. For those who are entrepreneurial, the National Youth Development Agency assists them with their business ideas.

“Participants [also] get information on scholarships and bursaries for further study and organisations in the wider education sector are looking to absorb participants into literacy and library programmes,” he said.

The President called on the private sector to participate in the growth and recovery of the economy by harnessing “the energies, talent, skills and experience of these young people”.

“The quality work experience and training provided by this programme addresses the concerns of many businesses that young applicants lack skills and experience. We call on businesses to participate in this process by taking advantage of the Employment Tax Incentive to hire more young people and create learnerships.

“They can use the platform to publicise opportunities that exist in their companies.

“As we build on the successes of this programme and bring opportunities to more young South Africans, I call on all of society – whether as businesses, community-based organisations or places of learning – to be part of building a new future for our young people.

“Let us all do what we can to help these young people build their confidence, find decent work and bring dignity to their lives,” President Ramaphosa said. –