Speech by the Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, at the Youth Leadership Academy, in Pretoria
19 Aug 2011Programme Director
Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Fikile Mbalula
Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Paul Mashatile
CEO of the Tshwane Leadership Foundation, Mr Stephan de Beer
The leadership and members of the Foundation
Members of the Youth Leadership Academy
Young people present
Ladies and gentlemen
We are very happy to be here today to help shape a prosperous future that we aspire for our society. The attainment of this future relies heavily on the solid foundation that we build today for the current generation of youth to become upstanding citizens in the future.
I am particularly impressed that the Youth Leadership Academy clearly articulates that it “aims to help shape the society by empowering young people to rise above their different circumstances and channel their energy in making a positive change in their lives”.
This phrase evokes a number of issues, which in my view are instrumental towards the realisation of the goal set by the academy. Firstly, I want us to recall the following:
- That the South African population size has surpassed 50 million
- That the youth of South Africa now constitute over 40 percent of the total population.
Now, research has shown that countries with more than 40 percent of the population aged between 15 and 29 are labelled as having a “youth bulge”.
What does this mean? `In some instances, youth bulges are associated with negative things like unrests and revolts, while in fact a youth bulge can essentially be a country’s asset. In our case, this means that young people are in a better space to turn their fortunes around and change their own lives in their lifetime.
The Youth Leadership Academy we are here about today, occupies an important space as a school of leadership that nurtures and grooms young people to make a meaningful contribution in the life of our country. Amongst others, this is done by tapping into the abilities and capabilities of the youth, including orphans and vulnerable children. I know that in some cases, you even unearth capabilities that these young people themselves never knew they had.
In my view, this academy has positioned itself as a vehicle that we can use to take advantage of the youth bulge I referred to earlier. I make this assertion essentially because the academy sees itself as seeking “to help young people to regain self confidence, acquire different skills and advance their education so that they can contribute to the economy and better their lives.”
In this instance, the targeted youth include those living and working on the streets such as orphans, ex-prisoners and sex workers, who end up consumed in the many social ills such as alcohol and substance abuse as well as crime. As the academy captures it correctly, some of these young people are uneducated, unskilled, ill-disciplined, without vision, unmotivated and have lost hope.
Ladies and gentlemen, government has proclaimed in different platforms that it will never succeed alone in areas such as this which require social mobilisation. We welcome initiatives of this nature which seek to change the negative attitudes of young people towards life with the view to make them better and responsible citizens. As the Department of Social Development, we have partnerships with many civil society organisations, including non-profit organisations and community-based organisations, who implement programmes that seek to foster social cohesion.
In fact, the bulk of our work on welfare services is implemented by these organisations. Moving forward, we have taken decision which we think the work of this academy will complement. These include our initiative aimed at recruiting 10 000 Child and Youth Care Workers over the next three years to care and support orphans and vulnerable children, especially those in child-headed households. Our view is that we can unearth future leaders from these poor households and we hope that the academy will contribute towards this drive. It is through a variety of our programmes, including social grants that we are building a fabric of society which provides a springboard for children and young people to thrive.
We all have a responsibility to create socially conscious young people, who will stand tall as social engineers fully equipped to make a difference in their communities. An important aspect of this work must be an investment in education and training in a quest to deal with the challenge of unemployment among the youth. Addressing unemployment is not only about the ability of the economy to absorb labour, but it is also a function of the level of education and work experience of young people.
Education is a critical determinant of youth’s skills and capacity development that enables them to gain employment and/or start their own business enterprises. I am very pleased to learn that as part of your objective to empower youth through leadership and development, you aim to assist young people to access information on learnerships and bursaries, among other things. This must also take young women into account.
The challenges facing young people in South Africa affect them all across race, class and gender. I am particularly impressed that the Youth Leadership Academy has taken into account the challenges faced by young people in affluent families some of which were subdued by the culture of modernisation, especially social networks. This must give us a platform to especially protect young girls from paedophiles as well as other incidents that may expose them to abuse or human trafficking.
This will help us make a broader impact, not only focusing on the poor youth, but young people in general across all aspects.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As part of contributions to the good course of the Academy, the Department of Social Development pledges an amount of R200 000. We take pride of the fact that this investment is not isolated, but builds on the support we have been providing to other programmes of the Tshwane Leadership Foundation over the past few years. We will fully engage the business plan of the academy and the institution itself to find a common understanding that indeed this money will be invested in a manner that makes a difference in our communities.
Source: Department of Social Development
Issued by: Department of Social Development
19 Aug 2011
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