Pretoria- Commonwealth countries around the world must shift their focus on innovation and creative thinking to find opportunities to improve the lives of its citizens, especially the youth, says President Jacob Zuma.
In his Commonwealth message on Monday, Zuma said it was a collective responsibility to identify ways and assist in preparing the environment in which talent and innovation can be supported and put to the best use possible, for the benefit of all.
Commonwealth Day - aimed at promoting an understanding of global issues, international co-operation and the work of the Commonwealth to improve the lives of its two billion citizens - is celebrated annually on the second Monday in March.
This year, members agreed to focus on the critical issue of “Opportunity through Enterprise – Unlocking potential with innovation and excellence”.
In this light, Zuma said South Africa will use the theme to recognise achievement in areas such as social entrepreneurship, green and sustainable industries, and focus on ways to support enterprise, particularly in young people, through nurturing youth enterprise by means of education and developing skills and employability.
“We will focus on unlocking the potential of our youth and creating opportunities for those that will be the future leaders of our country,” said Zuma.
As we accelerate the development of young people, the President said, there is a need to equally appreciate the efforts of youth workers as they are the frontline providers of services to the youth.
Globally, the investment in the youth has become a necessity at a time when the youth are experiencing serious challenges, for example high unemployment, crime and health challenges such as HIV and Aids that is threatening the development agenda.
“Young people hold the key to society’s future, their ambitions, goals and aspirations and we can only prosper if there are dedicated efforts to invest in the youth. In South Africa we decided to focus on youth workers to close the gap and ensure that services to the youth are prioritized,” said Zuma.
In line with addressing youth challenges and Commonwealth Secretariat’s Youth Programme, the Presidency will host the first Commonwealth Conference on Education and Training of Youth Workers (CCETW) from 18 to 20 March, at the University of South Africa in Pretoria.
The conference will bring together participants from across the Commonwealth member states for three days to deliberate on 40 years of progress in education and training towards professionalising youth work.
Participants will include youth work practitioners from government and non-government sectors, ministries responsible for youth affairs, academics and researchers, young people, representatives of the national youth councils, international development agencies involved with young people and invited private sector companies. –SAnews.gov.za