Modern, Growing, Successful Province

Youth Day 2013

Address by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms Sylvia Lucas, on the occasion of the Youth Day Celebration, 16 June 2013, Robert Gunda Stadium, Upington

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Programme Director
The Mayor & Councillors
Faith based Organizations
Civil Society Organizations
Leaders of different political organizations
Distinguished Guests
Community of Upington

As we celebrate June 16, South African Youth Day, we would like to salute and honour all the youth of our country and province in particular who were part of the struggle against apartheid and Bantu Education. We honour those fearless young lions who sacrificed their young lives so that we can today enjoy the fruits of freedom.

We recognise the role they have played in the struggle to bring about a non racial, non sexist and democratic South Africa.

The commemoration of Youth Day this year marks the 37th anniversary of the 16 June Soweto uprising and is celebrated under the theme “Working together for youth development and a drug free South Africa”

This theme instructs us to redouble our efforts and amplify our programmes to improve the conditions of our young people who represent the future of our country. It furthermore calls on us to step up the fight against substance abuse and rid our society of all the drug lords that supply these dangerous substances to our youth and destroying their future.

Whilst the youth of 1976 fought for freedom and the creation of a democratic state, non sexist and prosperous country, the youth of today is faced with a formidable challenge of a lack of skills, poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, HIV and AIDS, personal development and identifying economic opportunities .

Programme Director, We are here today to appeal to our parents, civil society and faith-based organizations and communities to join hands with government to tackle this scourge that is destroying the moral fabric of our society. We have seen during the dark days of apartheid what can be achieved if we stand together as a nation regarding the upliftment of our people.

Faith based organisations have always played a major and constructive role to keep hope alive and fill our hearts with joy. Faith based organisations must continue to play that crucial role in this new dispensation by being the guiding light and continue in partnership with government to empower communities.

The government remains fully committed to work with religious leaders and Civil Society organisations through our programmes such as Batho Pele, the RDP of the soul and moral renewal of our social fibre. As government we expect the faith based organisations to maintain this special relationship with communities in making them aware of issues of crime/violence/racism/the new threat of HIV/AIDS and drugs.

We once again urge parents, relatives and other community structures to play an active role in raising awareness and to provide support to those affected.

It is a known fact that the drug lords who are selling these drugs are hiding in our Communities, we are thus appealing to our communities to expose and report those involved in the trade of illegal substances so that we can fight and beat the scourge together.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Government is committed to rid our society of substance abuse which is the cause of numerous social problems. Government has been given the mandate to drive the fight against substance abuse which it does through its “KE MOJA” campaign, aimed at school going youth and youth at large to ensure a drug free Northern Cape.  The aim of the campaign is to create awareness about substance abuse and to ensure that those who do engage in substance abuse receive the necessary in or out-patient treatment and after-care services.

Very disturbingly, it has been reported that drug abuse in South Africa is twice the world norm in most cases. In particular, youth have borne the brunt of abuse with the emergence of local drugs such as tik or Nyaope and Kubar

No one can deny that there is an undisputed link between substance abuse, reckless sexual behaviour, teenage pregnancy and criminality.  Therefore as government, our message is clear to all the youth, DO NOT USE DRUGS, IT KILLS.

Alcohol also poses a serious risk to young people’s health and well-being. It also significantly impacts on their education performance. In fact it is illegal to sell drugs to young people under the age of 18years.

In our drive to combat crime, we will provide accredited social crime prevention training for a total of 250 young people in the Northern Cape. We will also focus on increasing participation and involvement in crime prevention initiatives through partnership with organisations such as Youth Against Crime Office in all police stations, clusters and provincial level. Another focus will be on youth at risk and those in conflict with the law.

Programme Director, another social ill that affects our young people is the scourge of HIV/AIDS. The HIV//AIDS pandemic has been among the most serious and deadly viruses in recent centuries. There is no dispute in the fact that HIV/AIDS epidemic presents a major obstacle and challenges to young people. Many of our youth are infected and some have already succumbed to this deadly scourge. We must thus step up the fight against this pandemic which is ravaging our country before it completely destroys the economic active population.

Programme Director, despite the many social ills that continue to beset our young people, we can also proudly proclaim that significant progress has been made in a number of areas such as education, skills development, job creation initiatives and business skills enable them to start their own businesses.

Many of us would agree with the assessment that we have made huge strides in laying the foundation for an ever- improving quality of basic education, soberly aware that the success of our country, including our province, necessarily depends on it – a good quality basic education!

Education remains a priority of government in terms of both its goals as well as its budgetary allocation and like all the people in our province, government remains committed to improving the quality of our education system.

Accordingly, the education we provide to our children and our young people, must help develop their capacity to think critically, and approach challenges with creativity; as innovators and leaders of tomorrow! And our schools remain at the heart of our delivery; it is in the schools where our main purpose for existence is.

We continue to provide accredited skills development programmes to our youth through the National Youth Service Programmes and drivers licenses to our young people to ensure that we enhance their employability to and enable them to live dignified lives as productive citizens of the province.

This is however not only the responsibility of government, it is our collective responsibility and we therefore need to strengthen our collaborative efforts as government, civil society and private sector to create an enabling environment where young people can realise their untapped potential and contribute towards the realisation of a caring society.

Through the South African SKA Office (SASPO) Human Capital Development Programme we have also seen 26 learners from the area (Carnavon) undergoing FET training and with some of them being absorbed into the project.

The Northern Cape has also benefitted from the undergraduate bursary programme with over 9 matriculants having received assistance to attain qualification towards Bachelors of Sciences in Astrophysics or Electrical Engineering.

We are also encouraged with the work that the departments and the Premiers Bursary Trust Fund are doing to provide bursaries to our young people. Most, notably, our Province has made a number of bursaries available to prospective candidates to further their studies which will open up economic opportunities for them once they have completed their studies. All the different departments in the province have allocated specialist bursaries to students and the Premier’s Bursary Trust Fund allocated bursaries to all deserving students.

It is my firm belief that no one who is willing to further his or her studies must be denied the opportunity to do so. Everyone in the province who is in need of a bursary must be afforded one to ensure that there is a pool of professionals appropriately qualified to deliver quality services to the people of the province.

The establishment of the University is expected to present an opportunity for the establishment of our province as the Astronomy Hub of the Southern Hemisphere, with a number of economic and related benefits emanating from it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, South Africa has a young generation that must contribute to the development of the country. The National Development Plan (NDP), the country's vision for the next 20 years, singles out young people as key to the development of the country. The NDP highlights that South Africa’s youthful population presents an opportunity to boost economic growth, increase employment and reduce poverty. It also recognises that young people bear the brunt of unemployment and that ways to urgently reduce it and provide young people with broader opportunities must be sought.

It proposes the strengthening of youth service programmes and the introduction of new, community-based initiatives to offer young people life-skills training and entrepreneurship training.

Government has put measures in place to boost labour absorption among young people and to create an environment for economic growth that supports youth development over the long term.

A number of young people around the country are already enrolled in various training programmes through the National Rural Youth Services Corps (Narysec) under the department of Rural Development and Land Reform. This programme aims to create nine rural Youth Hubs per Province, including 23 poorest districts in the Country.

The Department of Education will appoint 66 unemployed young people as Reading Coaches at under-performing public schools and a further 6 at departmental offices to assist in implementing the Literacy Strategy.

Amongst others, the Reading Coaches will: supervise and assist learners with reading tasks, provide guidance in their school work, including some administration work for the teachers.

The Department of Education aims to progressively increase the utilisation of the Reading Coaches over the next few years.

This in addition to the 350 young people currently in the learner- and internship programmes of the department of education.

In keeping with Government’s job creation opportunity priority, the Department of Education has been allocated R5, 8 million in the 2013/14 Financial Year as part of the Infrastructure EPWP Incentive Grant. The target is to create 109 temporary jobs through 12 infrastructure and 9 environmental projects to be funded from this grant.  These will be augmented through other infrastructure projects that will be implemented through labour intensive methods to ensure that the province attains its EPWP job creation targets.

Another initiative employed by government to create work opportunities for out of school youth is the Social EPWP Incentive Grant. The Northern Cape Department of Education receives a total budget of R3.9m through this Grant for the 2013/14 financial year. A total of 129 full time equivalent work opportunities will be created in the 2013/14 financial year.

Programme Director, in celebration of June as youth month the department of roads and public works initiated an artisan training learner ship for young people. Forty three youth where enrolled to undergo training in diesel mechanics, boiler makers, fitter and turner and electricians.

This training initiative under the Phakamile Mabija Learner ship pogramme was done by Ikhaya Fundisa Techniskills Academy in Roodepoort. We are pleased that thirteen youth obtained their qualifications under this program.

We will resume the program this year and fifty young people will be recruited to undergo artisan training. These young people will be trained in boilermaking, electrician, fitter and turner as well as diesel mechanics.

The Phakamile Mabija Learneship is part of the EPWP initiative to empower young people with skills. This is a 24 month artisan program that will prepare young people with the necessary skills to get better employment.

Department of Economic Development and Tourism will through the Stein Muller   Welding Facility here in Upington train 150 young people to gain welding skills. There are also a number of other opportunities which be embarked upon to make a difference in the lives of young people.

Entrepreneurship is another tool to create employment opportunities for young people. Running a business helps young people achieve economic independence, reducing their reliance on state welfare. Young entrepreneurs are more likely to engage in their local community, spreading their experience and energy, and creating additional jobs.

In both developed and developing counties, the small business sector is regarded as the driving force of economic growth, innovation and job creation.  South Africa can benefit from this, by starting today to encourage its young people into mainstream economic participation from a young age. Once you have identified a niche opportunity, government will step in to ensure that we make your dream a reality.

In conclusion, it is only by standing together as a nation and fighting issues such as substance abuse, that the hard won freedoms of our liberation will be fully realised, including economic freedom.

I thank you

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