Youth Development Beyond Youth Day
Youth Day may only be celebrated once a year, but the work to address the challenges and issues faced by our youth is ongoing. With unemployment, lack of access to education, drug abuse, HIV and unwanted pregnancy just some of these challenges, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) has placed an intense focus on uplifting the youth.
Based on the National Youth Policy 2020 (NYP), SALGA’s Youth Development Programme provides a platform for municipalities to address five issues, namely:
- Economic participation and transformation;
- Education and second chances;
- Healthcare and combating substance abuse;
- Nation-building and Social cohesion; and
- Effective and responsive youth development machinery.
SALGA is a leading implementer of the NYP, a vital policy framework designed to ensure a youth population that is economically active, socially integrated and emotionally engaged in the success of South Africa.
“The NYP 2020 takes the view that South Africa has the potential and capacity to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality over the next two decades,” explains Mandu Mallane, director of SALGA’s Youth Development Programme. “This requires a new approach – one that moves away from passive citizenry, which is about only receiving services from the state, to one that systematically includes the socially and economically excluded, where people are active champions of their own development and where government works effectively to develop people’s capabilities to lead the lives they desire.”
Mallane says that, notwithstanding 20 years of youth development interventions, the desired outcomes have not been realised, particularly when it comes to youth unemployment. “To address these high levels of unemployment, particularly among the youth cohort, extraordinary measures will be required,” she says. “As a developmental state, government must lead the charge by creating an enabling environment for youth development through policy and legislation, implementing programmes targeted specifically at youth development, incentivising private sector participation in youth development and ensuring effective monitoring and evaluation of all youth development activities.”
As part of the municipal reforms stemming from the Municipal Structures Act of 1998, municipalities must enable local communities to participate in the affairs of municipalities. This includes the establishment of youth committees. The past few years have seen SALGA developing a number of new initiatives to support municipalities in achieving the goals set out in the NYP.
In addition to the implementation of the NYP, SALGA has been leading the development of the Integrated Youth Development Strategy (IYDS) 2020. “This process will enable municipalities to develop their own IYDS at the metro, district and local levels,” Mallane adds.
During Youth Month this year, SALGA also hosted the first ever Local Government Youth Development Conference, under the theme: Empowering young people to become leaders in development. The three-day event brought together around 700 participants from all levels of government. This groundbreaking conference allowed municipalities (and especially the youth) to share ideas, experiences and innovative approaches for effectively contributing to the NYP. In addition, the event saw the establishment of partnerships between stakeholders in youth development and role players such as the National Youth Development Agency and the South African Youth Commission.
The launch of the Local Government Youth Development Forum is also a major milestone. Mallane describes this forum “as a youth engagement mechanism that ensures consistent follow-up with the youth development officers and further boosts their participation and partnership in the implementation of programmes at a metropolitan, district and local municipality level”.
In partnership with the forum, SALGA will implement a number of projects, including the Local Youth Development Directory, research around the NYP, capacity building, professionalisation of youth work, youth sports programmes and an empowerment programme targeting young women and youth with disabilities.
Advancing Youth Economic Empowerment
During his keynote address at the Youth Development Conference, Des van Rooyen, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), said CoGTA has initiated various youth development initiatives, and that the youth formed a large part of CoGTA’s Community Work Programme (CWP) which is an innovative offering from government to provide a job safety net for unemployed people of working age. He said CWP provides them with extra cash to support them in their search for full-time or part-time employment thereby contributing to improvements that benefit all community members.
The conference created an opportunity to build effective partnerships between all the relevant stakeholders including youth-led organisations and youth movements to further strengthen inclusive youth participation in the decision-making processes and implementation of the Youth delopment programmes.
The Conference also provided a platform for discussions to unpack the National Youth Policy 2020 with specific focus on the five thematic areas:
- Economic participation and transformation
- Education and second chances
- Health care and combating substance abuse
- Nation-building and social cohesion
- Effective and responsive youth development machinery.
The scourge of poverty and unemployment continue to imprison young people despite the implementation of various policies, strategies, and programmes targeting youth development and advancement
According to the recently published report by Stats SA, the unemployment rate in South Africa increased to 27.7 percent in the first quarter of 2017 from 26.5 percent in the previous period and Youth unemployment rate stands at 50.9 per cent. It is the highest jobless rate since the first quarter of 2004 as unemployment rose faster than employment and more people joined the labour force. To address these high levels of unemployment particularly among the youth cohort, extraordinary measures will be required.
Executive Director for the SALGA Community Development Directorate Mirriam Lehlokoa says the government and society as a whole must do everything possible to ensure that all young people have access to education and training, that we reduce youth unemployment and poverty, and that we instill pride and patriotism among all young people for being South African.
“The importance of the youth to the stability and wellbeing of South Africa as cannot be underestimated,” said Lehlokoa.
During SALGA’s 5th National Conference held last year, the following resolutions on youth in Local Government were adopted:
- Establishment of SALGA Youth Commission
- Establishment of youth business chambers in every municipality
- Provide capacity development for youth at all levels
- Advocate for youth directed support and activities
- Create platforms for youth dialogues
- Apply an integrated approach to youth issues