Govt, Thaba Nchu youth get talking

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bloemfontein - With an eye on the immense challenges of joblessness facing the youth in the rural areas, government is making deliberate and measurable strides in laying the foundation for a success story.

Government on Thursday hosted a youth dialogue at Albert Moroka High School in Thaba Nchu, situated 65km from Bloemfontein.

The dialogue was held as part of the Youth Month commemoration which encourages debates, discussions and conversations about the challenges confronting the youth of today and how they can take forward the baton of leadership, as well as to highlight programmes for youth development and how youth can access them.

Young South Africans were urged to engage with and take ownership of the country's National Development Plan (NDP) and identify provisions stipulated, help define and carry out the plan as it speaks to their needs.

The NDP is about the future and the youth, said Deputy Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Young people must look at the document and find out how they can make it work and how it can actually enhance their opportunities in skills development, in training, in improving the quality of life, she said.

The NDP is a policy blueprint for eliminating poverty and reducing inequality in South Africa by 2030.

Among other things, it identifies the key constraints to faster growth and presents a roadmap to a more inclusive economy that will address the country's socio-economic imbalances.

“While progress has been made in many fronts, the struggle for socio-economic freedom still rages on. The mineral wealth of this country which lies beneath the soil has not yet translated into the equal and full benefit of all South Africans. We are still confronted by the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment,” said the Deputy Minister.

Deputy Minister Ndabeni Abrahams, who is also a member of the Presidential Youth Working Group established by the President Jacob Zuma recently to mainstream youth development and empowerment, called on the youth to move away from being a “protesting youth” to a youth that must make a better life for themselves by taking up the economic opportunities presented to them by government.

“Education is a priority for government. It does not matter where you come from. This is because we want you to take charge of your future. We must work towards making education compulsory…nyaope, teenage pregnancy, violent protests must fall in our communities.”

Education, she said, is a right, not a privilege, so schools in the rural areas must get the same resources as urban areas and government must ensure that happens.

“Kids, you must be grateful that you have a President like Jacob Zuma, who said education should be made a priority number one in the five years that he committed himself to when he took over the Presidency in 2009.

“He has ordered all of us, ministers and deputy ministers, in our departments to ensure that we have educational programs and bursaries so that we bridge the gap between the poor and the rich through education.”

Post schooling opportunities

On post schooling opportunities, she said government has increased enrolments at Technical and Vocational Education Training colleges which are being promoted as centres of critical skills that the economy so desperately needs.

“Our Technical and Vocational Education Training colleges are ensuring that marginalised youth and those who have fallen out of the educational, social and economic mainstream have the opportunity to become active participants in the economy.

“Through these colleges we are giving young people the opportunity to reskill themselves and receive practical experience for life at work.”

The Deputy Minister used her address to announce that the department will donate computer labs to ten schools in the area. The labs will be equipped with about 26 computers and one year free of internet connectivity.

“These computers will ensure that learners not only have access to computers, but are able to access important learning material and liaise with learners from other schools,” she said.

This intervention was well received by learners who expressed that these communication tools will vastly improve their learning experience and inevitably lead to improved results.

Some of the schools were amongst the best performing schools in the province, with one achieving 100% matriculation pass rate.

The dialogue, which was attended by representatives from provincial youth formations such as NYDA and entities of the Department of Communications, who showcased their services, also had a session focusing on entrepreneurship which is critical to South Africa’s economic and social development.

The session focused on how small businesses which are predominately headed by young people can benefit from various government opportunities for their development.

She said entrepreneurship is key to the success of the NDP in promoting skills in young people with the aim of creating sustainable and efficient businesses capable of providing jobs and employment growth.

“If the economy is to grow, it is incumbent for the youth of today to play their part and drive the change for economic growth. Within their hands lies the power to build a society where all of our young people are valued and can fulfil their dreams of a better tomorrow.”

Young people grabbed the opportunity with both hands as they did not take time to field questions about their challenges, hopes and aspirations for youth development in the area.

The questions ranged from the non-availability of opportunities and lack of support from the local municipalities for businesses run by young people, to lack of transparency on youth development programmes, career guidance and opportunities for hearing impaired rural youth.

Some youth like Ditaba Mokhutle were adamant that creating an enabling environment first will help unearth the potential of youth entrepreneurship.

“We need smoother access to funding and non-financial help as part of the deal, to ensure young entrepreneurs can become active participants in the economy and create jobs.”

Another youth, Sello Theepe said entrepreneurship should be introduced at an early age.

“We need to start a programme which will take entrepreneurship to the learners at primary school level.”

Young entrepreneur, who attended the dialogue, Thabo Masenya said her main reason for attending was to really understand the plan of government.

“We always hear about what national government is doing or will do but today I heard where we can go and access these opportunities.”

The dialogue was preceded by a courtesy visit by Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams and her entourage to the Barolong Tribal Authority under the leadership of Her Majesty Kgosigadi Audrey Gaongalelwe Moroka which covers about 42 rural villages.

The royal house welcomed the visit and hoped that the session had educated and exposed youth to economic opportunities which will enable them to change their socio economic conditions in the area. –