Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, has challenged young people to take a stand and constructively engage on socio-political issues.
“No country can succeed if it does not invest in the future of young people to become tomorrow’s leaders,” Nzimande said.
He made the call during the launch of the Annual Tertiary Institutions Civic and Democracy Education (CDE) Youth Campaign at the uMfolozi Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College’s Eshowe campus, in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday.
Nzimande, with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of South Africa, launched the provincial campaign following the national launch at Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape on 7 March 2023.
The objectives of the campaign, which is being rolled out at tertiary institutions countrywide is to:
- Promote a civic culture of ongoing engagements and exchange of ideas within institutions of higher learning through targeted CDE programmes;
- Engage students’ views about electoral democracy and impact of participation thereof through debates;
- Promote Online Voter Registration to students within institutions of higher learning across the Republic;
- Conduct on-campus voter registration using the Voter Management Device and;
- Empower the students’ electorate with information to participate meaningfully in democratic and electoral processes.
In his address, Nzimande said the Post School Education and Training (PSET) is more than ready and available to work with the IEC on the campaign.
Nzimande said through community colleges the department has this year introduced a new programme on civic education, which teach the importance of protecting and supporting South Africa’s democracy and fostering better understanding of citizens roles and responsibilities.
Some of the topics covered in the programme will include Human rights, Constitutional rights, Voting as a Right and Responsibility, Countering Racism, Stigma and Discrimination.
“My other entity, Higher Health is currently rolling out a new digital National HIGHER HEALTH Civic and Health Skills Co-Curriculum which is an NQF (National Qualifications Framework) level-5 accredited qualification through a tripartite partnership between HIGHER HEALTH, the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA) and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) – with a dedicated gender studies module of five credits, as well as mental health, [and] disability,” Nzimande said.
He urged young people in post-apartheid South Africa to honour the youth of 1976 by participating in politics.
“If young people today do not participate in politics, it would mean that they do not acknowledge the contribution and sacrifices made by the youth of 1976. More importantly, our youth must pursue education.
“Education is the key to eliminating gender inequality, to reducing poverty, to creating a sustainable planet, to preventing needless deaths and illness, and to fostering peace. For our youth to take over this country and its economy, they first need to be educated then we will be certain that they will be taking this country to prosperity,” Nzimande said.
He was concerned about reports that more students are losing interest in voting for the Student Representative Council (SRC) because they do not think their votes bring about change.
“I therefore want to challenge the university management, working together with the South Africa Union of Students (SAUS) and the South African Technical Vocational and Training Student Association (SATVETSA) to deal with this challenge of lack of apathy to participate in student elections and politics,” the Minister said.
KwaZulu-Natal IEC Electoral Officer, Ntombifuthi Masinga, said about 40% of young people in the province who are eligible to vote, are not registered on the voters’ roll.
Masinga called on young people to register for vote, whether they have decided they are going to vote next year or not.
“By getting registered now, you are leaving your choices open because once the voters roll closes, you will not be able to register which means you are depriving yourself of an opportunity to participate,” Masinga said. – SAnews.gov.za