Keynote address by Minister Collins Chabane at the Integrated Youth Development Strategy National Convetion, Mayibuye Activity Centre, Kimberly, Northern Cape
06 August 2011
Premier of the Northern Cape Honourable H Jenkins
Members of the Executive Council present
Chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency Board, Mr Andile Lungisa
Members of the NYDA Board present
Chairperson of the Provincial NYDA Advisory Board
Young people of South Africa
South Africa has since the dawn of democracy made great strides in transforming our society and our country into a non racial, non sexist and democratic country that recognises the rights of all our people including the youth. The government has delivered basic services to our people who were historically excluded from these services by the brutal apartheid government.
Since 1994, we have successfully developed policies and plans that made it possible for our people to prosper and access service and we spend millions of rands to reduce poverty levels and take our people out of depravation. South African youth accounts for 41 % (Statistics South Africa 2010) of the country’s population; it was with this reality in mind that we developed pro youth policies and created institutional capacity dedicated to the development and prosperity of young people. We recognised that massive investments we have made in our country’s development have not produced the outcomes we want.
Youth unemployment accounts for 70% (Statistics South Africa 2010) of over 6 million of South Africans who are unemployed. The education system which directly affects young people does not produce the skills required by the economy therefore making it difficult for you to get employed. Our health care system is not accessible to all our people and young people continue to be affected by HIV and Aids and other diseases. Young people continue to be affected by crime and are also in the forefront of protests in communities due to lack of opportunities. Our rural youth continue to be left out of the mainstream economy and are forced to migrate from their homes in search of opportunities to sustain their lives and their families.
Despite all positive policies and institutional arrangements directed towards youth development our youth continue to face these massive challenges. Failure to address these challenges our country faces a bleak future. It is time to come up with a radical plan which will see our youth prosper and overcome all these burdens that confronts them.
We take this opportunity to congratulate the National Youth Development Agency for coming closer to reaching this critical milestone in youth development, having travelled this journey towards developing this draft Integrated Youth Development Strategy. This has been a very short journey considering that the NYDA is only two years old. However, government has as you might all be aware, put high on its agenda addressing challenges we face as country in education, health, crime and corruption creation of jobs and developing our rural areas.
I am particularly pleased to see that this draft strategy focuses firmly on some of these priorities. As government we look forward to the contribution of the youth in assisting the country to overcome these challenges. We then say that there will not be any successful youth development without yourselves.
I also wish to commend the efforts of the Agency for this hard work and I must say the strategy looks very comprehensive and inclusive.
It is my conviction that if implemented collectively, with all of us in society taking a leading role in our areas of work, it will take youth development to a higher trajectory of development.
Programme Director, Youth Development in our country is defined in our Nation Youth Policy for 2009 to 2014 as:
...and I quote...
an intentional comprehensive approach that provides space, opportunities and support for young people to maximise their individual and collective creative energies for personal development as well as development of the broader society of which they are an integral part.
Youth development, I would argue, cannot be successfully implemented without the young people themselves taking a leading role. In many sectors of our society, including in government we tend to discuss youth development without youth involvement. It is partly for this reason that our efforts have not been very successful.
The youth are central and an integral part of societal efforts towards the country’s development.
The National Youth Development Agency Act of 2008 demands of all of us led by the NYDA, as its first objective to develop an Integrated Youth Development Plan and Strategy for South Africa. This is a demonstration of how government takes youth development very seriously and the importance we attach to this strategy. This cannot be achieved without proper involvement and consultations of young people in the development and implementation of it. Guided by the Nation Youth Policy we today provide the space, opportunities and support for you, the youth gathered here, to make your contribution and define your own future. It is against this background that we are all in this City of Kimberly to enrich and take centre stage towards a development of the broader society with young people at the forefront.
This a very necessary exercise which enables young people to participate in determining their future without government, civil society and organised business and labour taking decisions on your behalf. I urge all of you to take this opportunity seriously and go out there to mobilise all young people, so that we can adopt a strategy and plan that all of us can collectively own and implement vigorously. At the end of this convention, we must emerge with a strategy that must ensure that young people are taken out of poverty, get much needed jobs and participate actively in our economy.
The Integrated Youth Development Strategy is a deliberate effort to ensure that we build effective building blocks for youth development. It is a strategy that seeks to mobilise the whole of society to participate and make youth development everybody’s business.
This strategy is guided by six thematic areas derived from the National Youth Policy. They are Economic Participation, Education and Skills Development, Health and Wellbeing, Social Cohesion and National Youth Service, Sports & Recreation and Youth Work. These areas are comprehensive and cover all areas of youth development. They have been identified through an extensive research and judged to be central for the strategy to address the plight of the South African youth.
Programme Director; as said earlier youth unemployment in our country accounts for 70% (Statistics South Africa 2010) of over 6 million South Africans who are unemployed. This situation cannot be left unattended as it will further pose a threat to our nationhood. A nation which does not invest in its young people does not have a future and it is incumbent upon all of us to fold our sleeves and find a solution to bring our young people into the mainstream economy.
Government has developed the New Growth Path which adopts a three-pronged approach to creating employment. In the short-term we intend to increase government expenditure and subsidies, in the medium-term we will stimulate the creation of labour absorptive ventures. In the long term we intend to support capital intensive and knowledge-based industries.
The IYDS proposed interventions that seek to augment the Growth Path and other similar initiatives by both public and private sector in order to swiftly maximise benefits for young South Africans. It further supports calls for a policy review to set aside 30% quota allocation for youth in employment and all public sector procurement transactions.
In the area of Education and Skills Development the strategy proposes achievement of the following developmental goals;
1) School Education through focussing on Numeracy, Science and Mathematics; Job preparedness and life skills so that an increased number of young people attain their National Senior Certificate or equivalent with productive skills.
2) Further and Tertiary Education through focussing on providing financial support to study and availing technical colleges in all municipalities in order to increase access to further and tertiary education.
At the beginning of this administration, President Jacob Zuma announced that we intended to build a performance orientated state. He subsequently mandated my office to develop a performance monitoring and evaluation mechanism for our government. In this process we developed outcomes which focused on the key priorities I outlined earlier. Key among these priorities was education and as part of the plan we promised the nation that we will introduce the Annual National Assessment Tests in our school system to give us a clear picture of the health of our public education system – positive or negative – so that we can address the weaknesses that they uncover.
The results for 2011 were disappointing but provided a basis for us to act. Allow me to share with you the results once again as released earlier. In Grade 3, the national average performance in Literacy stands at 35%. In Numeracy our learners are performing at an average of 28%. In Grade 6, the national average performance in Languages is 28%. For Mathematics, the average performance is 30%. This performance is something that we expected given the poor performance of South African learners in recent international and local assessments.
As government we also committed to ensure that we build a culture of learning and teaching in our schools. We must ensure that our children attend school every day, learn how to read and write, count and calculate, reason and debate. The question that arises is; what is the role of the unemployed youth who have gone through the education system in assisting schools in ensuring that we produce the skills the economy needs. Literacy, mathematics and science are critical for our economic prospects and skills at this point in time and in the future. I urge you to discuss this matter and see how the youth can assist in this national effort.
These young people who are still at a school going age live with us in our communities and their schools are within backyards. We see them going to school every day the results of the tests says to us if this is not addressed they will find themselves in the same position as the youth of today. Let us join hands in a national
effort to pave a better future for those who are still at school.
In the area of Health the strategy proposes the achievement of the following developmental goals that relate to health and well being of the youth. It speaks to;
1) Decreasing the number of new HIV/AIDS infections amongst young people through focussing on School Health Education; access to health services; sanitation facilities and hygiene services; and addressing substance abuse and teenage pregnancy.
2) Decreasing lifestyle diseases affecting youth through addressing obesity, diabetes and other non communicable diseases and the provision of rehabilitation and educational support services.
3) Increasing the number of youth living active and healthy lifestyles through focussing on providing access and participation in arts and recreation.
Programme Director, Youth Work is defined as a field of practice that focuses on the holistic development of a young person enabling the realisation of youth’s development. While Youth Work has been in existence for many years internationally, in South Africa, while important, it has largely been informal with limited impact on the overall societal challenges and individual development of Youth Workers. In line with the Commonwealth mandate of promoting Education and training of youth workers, it is important that SA plays a leading role by recognising youth work as a profession. This will create the required technical capacity for provision of youth development services, whilst creating employment for providers of youth development services.
Other than the National Youth Policy, there is no clear institutional guideline that provides direction on Youth Work.
The IYDS identifies the need to;
1) engage with relevant institutions to explore measures for recognition of Youth Work as a professional field of practice.
2) Develop regulatory framework and practice as a key lever to professionalising Youth Work.
3) Promote Youth Work as a profession.
The strategy also speaks to sports and recreation, social cohesion and National Youth Service which you must vigorously engage with and enrich it for your own development. The NYDA undertook consultations with various role players across the country before the IYDS is submitted to cabinet and parliament. This is the last leg of consultations, please take it seriously as from here we are going to Cabinet and Parliament then straight into implementation. The youth of this country cannot afford to wait any longer.
The consultation was done to ensure that the IYDS is coherent with views from different stakeholders including the youth themselves. Our gathering today is a clear demonstration of government commitment to take all the steps necessary to ensure that the youth participate in shaping your own future.
Programme Director, it will be a lost opportunity if we fail to advantage of this platform and recognise strides we have made since the establishment of the NYDA. It is not a gloom and doom but we want to make sure that our efforts are able to reach all youth in all corners of our country. The NYDA has walked the path and managed to approve R66, 7 million worth of loans to young entrepreneurs and sourcing business opportunities worth over R144 million through the Business Opportunities Support Service, which a target we exceeded by over 250% in the 2010/2011 financial year.
About 5,277 business consultancy services vouchers were issued to youth for business development services including for company registrations, tendering and marketing support. Furthermore the organisation has also provided career guidance to over 444, 000 young people a target we have exceeded by over 11% in the 2010/2011 financial year and trained 152, 377 young people including 84, 644 trained through the National Youth Service programme, which is a target we exceeded by 33% in the 2010/2011 financial year.
In addition over 61, 000 jobs, which is a target we exceeded by about 18, 2% in the 2010/2011 financial year, have been sustained through various NYDA programmes including the entrepreneurship and skills development programmes. Dispite all these achievements a lot more remain to be done hence we need to up the gear through this vehicle. It is important for the NYDA working with partners in the youth sector to maximise on the marketing of its products to maximise impact of services it provides.These figures would not mean anything if they don’t result and impact and an outcome that will allow young people to prosper.
Programme Director, South Africa is not an island and its development cannot take place in isolation of the African continent. The African Youth Charter, as a guiding document which South Africa was central to its development and adoption in Banjul in Gambia in 2006, demands of all member states to prioritise youth development. The charter demands of member states to among others;
• Ensure that the rights of the youth are entrenched in the constitution and in legislation
• Develop a comprehensive and coherent national youth policy
• Ensure that young people have a right and access to needs like education and health
• Ensure that young people are employed and free to participate in all sectors of society
South Africa has made great strides in youth empowerment and development. South Africa has also made great strides in meeting most of the obligations placed on us as a signatory to the African Youth Charter. South African has youth development firmly in the constitution and has legislations developed to guide our efforts. We have;
• The National Youth Policy
• The youth in South Africa have access to both education and health and government is taking the necessary steps to make sure that everyone has access.
• The government has recognised the challenge of youth unemployment in the National Growth Path.
• South Africa has also established the National Youth Development Agency to mainstream youth development in our country.
In the context of globalization, it is important that the IYDS does not only look at youth development issues at local level, but must also be eager to make young South Africans critical players at continental and global level. I would like to applaud the NYDA for occupying that space and intensifying international cooperation. The NYDA recently signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the Mexican Youth Institute and also participated in the High level meeting on Youth this previous week. I believe that all these engagements will not only benefit the youth sector at national level, but will benefit the majority of our youth at provincial and local levels.
South Africa was also represented at the African Union Summit in Addis and the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month where youth development took centre stage. We also are meeting here today in the run up to the International Youth Day on the 12th of August which also takes place within Women’s month. The youth must take advantage of this important day and month to highlight the plight our young people face in their day to day life. You must also celebrate those young people who continue to fly the flag for all young people in all sectors of our society.
In conclusion, I appeal to all of you to take advantage of this national convention to adopt a practical and implementable strategy. This strategy should make it possible for you the youth of our country to hold the NYDA and government to account. It must also make it possible for you to hold business, labour and organised civil society to account and make them commit to it.
As a Minister responsible for youth development and performance monitoring and evaluation I will ensure that we monitor its progress after adoption and ensure its implementation. As we continue to monitor government implementation of the priorities, we must also bring in an element of youth participation in achieving these goals. I am also pleased that both the government priorities and the strategy are aligned, what is left of us is to make sure that the youth are given the space, opportunity and skills to explore their potential and benefit from all our programmes.
I wish to reiterate, no youth development will succeed without the involvement of young people themselves.
I wish you a very successful convention and fruitful deliberations. I also look forward to a finalised strategy and an energised youth hungry for success.
I thank you