Umsobomvu Youth Fund and National Youth Commission: briefings on Progress

Social Development

22 May 2007
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


23 May 2007

Ms T Tshivhase (ANC)

Documents handed out:
UYF/NYC Presentation to the Portfolio Committee
NYC Briefing to the Portfolio Committee

The Umsobomvu Youth Fund and the National Youth Commission jointly briefed the Committee on their programmes targeting youth. They indicated that these programmes were aligned with various national imperatives on growth and promotion of youth. Training was geared to try to help the youth access economic opportunities. 53% of youth were unemployed as of 2004, and there were 200 000 unemployed graduates. Umsobomvu programmes tried to ensure that products and services were customer focused and opportunity driven, and reflected integrated development. Some of the programmes were described.

Members were concerned about the access to advisory centres, the lack of focus on disabled youth and lack of engagement with suggestions made previously for improving disabled access across a number of spheres, seeming lack of access to certain racial groups, and sustainability strategies. Several members commented on the shortage of skills and high vacancy levels in government departments, which did not appear to tally with the numbers of unemployed, and queried whether specific strategies had ever been followed, what engagement was happening at rural level, and the level of proactive engagement with government departments. They urged Umsobomvu to take more stringent steps and to report back on progress in six months time. Further questions related to bursaries, the various structures being used, and funding for post-matric study.

The National Youth Commission briefed the committee on some of its current programmes, noting that the youth were being encouraged to participate in ward committees, and that specific programmes were targeting drug abuse and encouraging mass participation in sport. Some key challenges around departmental development indicators, liaison with the provincial youth commissions and funding had already been noted to the Committee dealing with the review of Chapter 9 institutions.  An overview was given of the National Youth Service Programme, on which the National Youth Commission and Umsobomvu worker jointly, which was a second economy government initiative to engage young people in service activities aimed at nation building and learning opportunities. The models were tabled and discussed and some of the challenges outlined. Funding was a major challenge. This programme also went further to try to recruit volunteers to assist in needy communities. Questions by Members related to the number of trainees, the annual budget, the problems of infrastructure that hindered sport participation, details of the anti-drug campaign and what the Commission was doing to fulfil its obligations in terms of reporting on that campaign,
the need to involve municipalities, whether efforts had been made to include religious groups and political parties in social programmes, challenges in publicising the programmes, and the need to strengthen cooperation also with the Department of Social Development.

Umsobomvu Youth Fund (UYF) and National Youth Commission (NYC) Joint briefing
Ms Ankie Motsoahae, Manager, National Youth Service Programme, NYC and Ms Lucy Hlubi, Director, Umsobomvu Youth Fund, stated that they had prepared a detailed presentation on the work the two organisations were doing. The presentation would be looking at the national imperatives within which the work was structured, and how their work was aligned with the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA), the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills for South Africa (JIPSA), the programme of action with government, and priorities that related to the development of youth.

Ms Lucy Hlubi noted that the ASGISA strategy provided a framework within which the programmes were conceptualised. She elaborated on the pillars of the ASGISA programme. She noted that the Youth development priorities were based on those defined in the 2007 President’s State of the Nation Address. The programmes that Umsobomvu ran aimed specifically to train young people so that they could and did access economic opportunities. According to the Labour Force Survey in 2001, 48.5% of youth were unemployed, and by 2004 this had increased to 53.3%, which was an indication that much needed to be done to create opportunities for the youth. There were 200 000 unemployed graduates and most of those unemployed graduates were not able to access economic opportunities because of lack of qualifications.

The UYF’s approach to youth development was based on ensuring that the products and services were customer focused and opportunity driven. Not all young people were at the same level of development so programmes were structured to respond to these differing needs. Programmes were structured to take care of young people in Category 1 (amounting to more than 50% of unemployed youth) who were unskilled and unemployed and who mainly had only a matric, or had dropped out of school with no vocational skills. Here, UYF would identify opportunities and provide access to finance. Training programmes responded to needs.

UYF also reflected integrated youth development. It identified opportunities, looked at the target market, and customised programmes for the specific needs to the end stage of opportunities where a young person became employed and was able to generate an income.

Ms Hlube tabled a list of the UYF Products and Services and service delivery channels.

Ms H Bogopane-Zulu (ANC) noted that the UYF and the Youth Commission worked together. However, because they had two separate identities, she thought it would be important to engage the UYF first and in that way the correlation between the youth service programmes could become clearer.

She noted that the programme seemed to leave out certain people, and was not suitable to blind people and their needs. She asked that this be registered. She had previously raised this issue in earlier discussions but there was still no progress, nor had any strategy plan been presented to ensure that disabled young people benefited, or that graduates with disabilities were able to get employment.

Ms Bogopane Zulu referred to the advisory centres, and said that she had several times raised the points of accessibility, sign language, infrastructure and access. At some centres it was impossible for people even to get into the centre, let alone receive advice and pamphlets. It was important to make sure that disabled young people were in fact respected, and not that empty promises were made.

Ms Bogopane Zulu noted that UYF also had a Tele Youth Connect, and that when this programme was designed, she had made input and stressed that it must also have an SMS service so that deaf people could also receive information. She had been promised it would be implemented and asked why that was still not available.

Ms Hlubi responded that access of products and services to young people with disabilities had been a shortcoming for the Fund. Fortunately the UYF had realised the existence of the challenge and had come up with a framework that it would be utilising internally to make sure that opportunities were created, and to ensure they prioritised young people with disabilities. When recruiting for programmes UYF would stipulate that a certain percentage must be young people with disabilities. However, a number of other challenges were encountered. Often service providers would say they were not able to access young people with disabilities, and did not know where to find them. UYF had then done research and realised they had to work with institutions that were involved specifically with young people with disabilities. The Fund had developed a framework to guide the work they were doing, and would be happy to share that with the Committee. One of the activities this year was a campaign focusing on taking a disabled young person to work, similar to the “take a girl child to work” programme. UYF was also addressing the issue of the quota for young people with disabilities.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu asked for clarification as to how achievement was measured.

Ms Bogopane Zulu noted that in her constituency of Pretoria Central there were a lot of concerns around white young people accessing the services of UYF for vouchers and other benefits. This point did not appear to have been included in the remarks on access.

Ms Hlubi stated that Umsobomvu did not deliberately exclude young people from other racial groups. Because of the historical past, young people who were invited to be part of the programmes would mainly be African youth. There was also a need to reach out to young people who were not necessarily African so that they too became aware of the work being done and to stress that Umsobomvu was not only for African youth. South Africa was a cosmopolitan country and constituted of young people from all the different racial groups. UYF would be reaching out to young people from white communities so that they also became familiar with the projects and programmes of Umsobomvu.

Ms Bogopane Zulu asked whether the UYF had a strategy on sustainability and the follow up to the entrepreneurs. The strategy to assist young people in starting a business was one thing, but keeping it going was crucial and difficult over a number of years.

Ms Hlubi noted that the support to young people was integrated youth development, so when a young person accessed a loan from Umsobomvu it was in the UYF’s interests that the person succeeded in the business, and therefore UYF would provide a mentor from the very beginning until that young person’s business became sustainable and they would be able to repay the loan. This was necessary to ensure that there was a continuous availability of funding for other young people.

Adv T Masutha (ANC) noted that he was partly sighted, and would prefer to receive documents in Braille.

Adv Masutha was not quite clear as to whether UYF was a statutory body, and asked its exact responsibilities and its core business, which had not come out clearly from the presentation.

Adv Masutha noted that the issue of youth unemployment was the core challenge before the Committee. He had the perception that there were vacancies in both the public and private sector, and vacancies at various levels requiring a divergence of skills. For instance, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on transport had mentioned a 41% vacancy rate in Department of Transport. He had some difficulty in reconciling the lack of employment with the vacancies that could not be filled. He asked why it was still apparently impossible to match young people who were trainable to vacancies, and why experience was still being bandied as such a vital requirement. Adv Masutha asked whether UYF or NYC ever went to the departments and specifically discussed with their senior management their situation and possible strategies to address the problem of youth unemployment. He asked if the departments had internship programmes to mentor young people to acquire the experience. He believed that not enough was being done to push opportunities for young people.

Mr Waters noted that there were shortages of teachers and of social workers. If the Children’s Act was to be implemented properly 26 000 social workers would be required, and this would rise to 40 000. He asked whether there was communication with the Departments of Social Development and Education. The universities were not producing enough social workers. He asked if consideration had been given to taking an unused training college and training thousands to become social workers. Obviously not everyone could be accommodated, but certainly the better candidates could be trained as social workers and teachers. He also asked what communication UYF had with the departments and what programmes they had regarding lack of skills in the public service.

Ms I Mars (IFP) was concerned that 200 000 graduates were unemployed. She asked why they were not being head hunted. She asked whether any connection was established between the UYF and the many government departments that were advertising. She also asked whether an analysis had been done of the graduates, the disciplines in which they trained, and why they were unemployable. She further enquired if UYF would go to the schools and do career counselling, having established where the shortage occurred, to encourage youth to enter careers where there were shortages.

Ms Hlubi responded that unfortunately the country was still in a situation where the tertiary institutions were continuing to churn out young people with qualifications that were not necessarily relevant to the needs of the economy, and there was a need for all to work together to ensure that that particular challenge was addressed. The main challenge was with the education system that could produce 200 000 unemployed graduates when there were vacancies in so many fields.  Companies and government departments advertised every day, but they were not able to fill some of the vacancies because suitable qualifications were not available. Some companies would want someone with work experience and would not take on new graduates. That was a challenge because young people were not afforded the opportunity to do practical training as part of their academic qualifications, and were thereby already excluded when they left the tertiary institution.
Ms Hlubi noted the need for teachers and social workers. She pointed out that UYF was not a training institution, but worked very closely with the higher education institutions to ensure they were able to deliver the programmes relevant to the economy. Through the National Youth Service Programme they would be training young people to become auxiliary social workers, which had been identified as one of the scarce skills in the country. Umsobomvu also worked closely with Further Education and Training (FET) colleges to make sure that programmes were aligned to the needs of the economy.

Adv Masutha referred to his question as to why the young people were not being absorbed, and asked if UYF was actively engaging these people. He noted that when he had worked in government he had seen young people being employed as clerks, who had no post-matric qualifications, but who managed to start correspondence courses with their pay, eventually moving up to professional posts when they had qualified. He asked what UYF was doing to facilitate this type of arrangement.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu did not think the strategy was good enough. It had been put forward for the last two years, and she had offered specific guidance to UYF on what were the issues for disabled young people, noting the challenges and how these could be addressed. Nothing specific had been done. There were organisations of disabled people, including one for unemployed blind teachers who, in spite of the shortage of teachers, were not being employed. She pointed out that UYF had been in existence for six years yet were still making the excuse that it acknowledged the problem. The “Take a disabled young person to work” campaign would come and go, yet was getting the same effort as all the other things. Disability campaigns should not be an add-on. Anything developed must benefit disabled people directly, and they should not be an afterthought. Umsobomvu was not taking the issue seriously enough. UYF could really begin to address problems. She was sure that of the 41% vacancy rate in the Department of Transport a substantial number would be administrative posts. If the battle to employ disabled people and the youth was to be won, it must be tackled through government. Government posts were not all hi-tech. Whether this resulted from lack of capacity within the Fund, or human responsibility, UYF was clearly not meeting its obligations or mandate and there was a need to establish what exactly the problem was.

Adv Masutha added that this Committee had not had a researcher for some time. He personally would be happy with an inexperienced graduate from university, who could be trained as a researcher. It was better to have somebody doing the work than to have the vacancy open for years. The Committee should stop being diplomatic, and bluntly get to the crux of the problem. It may be that the Committee had to start writing unequivocal letters, else the situation would continue.

The Chairperson appreciated all the points raised by Members and urged UYF to make things happen.

Ms Hlubi responded that the Fund was responsible for creating linkages between unemployed graduates and opportunities. It was a fairly new programme, and initially the focus was mainly on the private sector, but it was now reaching out to government departments. Eighteen government departments had been contacted to enable them to prioritise youth development or the job database. The President had also issued a directive that all government departments must make use of the jobs database but the response had not been satisfactory. UYF acknowledged that more needed to be done to reach out to government departments and ensure that they made use of the jobs database.

Ms M Gumede (ANC) asked which departments UYF had approached and what the response was.

Ms Hlubi explained that UYF wrote to eighteen government departments, with an appeal to use the jobs database.

Mr Masutha proposed that this not be taken any further. The message from the Committee was clear and Members did not believe UYF was doing enough. Young people were missing out on opportunities and that was very disappointing. If UYF was to ensure that the numbers of young people unemployed dropped, he was not convinced that their approach was likely to have significant short term impact. He believed UYF must reflect on their tactics. He would have expected a follow up to the eighteen letters, where these had not resulted in action. This was a national priority and could not be treated as just one of the many sets of activities. If UYF needed assistance from another authority this could be done. Somebody must be prepared to train and nurture, otherwise skills would never develop, and the youth must be prepared to go through such programmes.

Mr M Waters (DA) referred to the 18% increase in unemployment in the youth, from 2001 to 2004. He asked what age group this referred to.

 The Chairperson said that during oversight visits it was really pathetic to see unemployed youth filling the centres, and resorting to drugs. When asked why, they responded that they could not get funds. They were frustrated with UYF, and the Committee felt that it was time for action.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu proposed that UYF give feedback to the Committee on progress on these matters in six months time. She would like Umsobomvu to do an audit of their advisory centres, especially in respect of infrastructure access and location, because it was sometimes impossible for young people to get to these centres, and were far away from where the people lived. She wanted to know how many advisory centres existed, how many were subcontracted, how many were not accessible, where the nearest public transport was in relation to the centres and whether the youth were reached through the centres. Ms Bogopane Zulu was very passionate about youth unemployment, and always checked vacancy adverts to see where disabled young people could be placed. She would like to see UYF’s recruitment strategy. She suggested that since every university had a Disabled Students Movement; surely these could provide UYF with a database of all students with disabilities who had graduated in the last number of years. The excuse that they were unable to find such young people was pathetic. There were also special schools for young people with disabilities. UYF could already start to engage with those young people now, run a road show to the special schools, get a sense of what subjects the disabled matric students were doing, and what their dreams and expectations were. That could establish a far more sustainable programme with follow-up than the “take a disabled person to work” campaign.

Ms Mars referred back to interaction with government departments, and said that the Committee needed to know what the responses were in order to be able to assist by calling non- departments to account.  She asked how long UYF expected it would take to interact with the departments to set up personal interviews and report back to the committee.

Mr Elrico van Rooyen, Acting CEO, National Youth Commission, responded that the UYF had had a meeting with Rev Frank Chikane in the Office of the Presidency, and this matter had been put on the agenda for the Interdepartmental Committee on Youth Affairs. This had met last week with the new members from national departments, and it was agreed to meet monthly and not quarterly in order to come up with a clear response to the challenges. The Director General in the Presidency had been asked to assist with matters of accountability, and the DG’s forum would assist in internship issues for graduates, and unblocking bottlenecks. The specific issue of placing graduates in government departments would be on the agenda for July. In addition on 18 June the Youth Development Forum would be launched, between the UYF, NYC and CEOs of companies, with a view to the business sector creating more opportunities for young people. That would also be the key agenda item for the Presidential Youth Working Group sitting on 5 June.

The Chairperson asked whether the information was reaching the rural youth.

Ms Gumede asked if there were advisory centres in the rural areas, or whether these were concentrated in the large towns.

Ms Hlubi replied that one of the responsibilities of the Youth Advisory Centres was to provide information to young people. She would send specifics as to where the Youth Advisory points were located, and which rural youth they serviced. There was fair representation as would appear from the breakdown of locations in the nine provinces.

Ms Gumede stated that there were constituency centres throughout the nine provinces and asked if UYF would also go there, because most of the youth were using those constituency offices.

Adv Masutha explained that those constituency offices were run by Members of Parliament who were activists in their own respective political parties, and provided centres for youth structures, branches, zones and agents could meet or hold workshops. Government used these for outreach and utilising available resources in the community, and there was indeed access to a lot of the potential client base. Simply feeding constituency offices with information could be another access point as well.

Adv Masutha asked about access to funding for training for education and bursaries. He wondered why students were reliant on loans when there were bursaries, and whether access to bursaries was a problem. There was also a rumour that universities would withhold results or expel young people who could not afford the fees. He was sure that the business sector had resources, and asked for explanation of where young people could apply for bursaries.

Mr van Rooyen responded that NYC had set up a National Youth Stakeholder Forum last year, as well as sector forums so that information could be filtered through and accessed by youth at the forums or schools. UYF was in the process of finalising an agreement with the National Library to have youth corners where information could be sent, for instance, on bursaries.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu asked what the relationship was with those structures. She cautioned against establishing strings of structures that were not related to anything. She noted that there might be legislative requirements around establishment of committees.

Mr van Rooyen clarified that the NYC had a role, in terms of its mandate, to coordinate youth structures. Maybe his use of wording was not correct. He explained that the sectors were the Youth in Business sector and the religious youth sector. They were organised and the NYC simply coordinated these national structures to sit on a quarterly basis and had consultations with them around youth issues. They were not new structures. The aim was better and improved coordination with a better flow of information. NYC also had discussions with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) to ensure that there were not conflicting guidelines for youth development at local government. It was agreed that SALGA would operate under one set of guidelines on youth involvement and youth development. Young people were encouraged to participate in ward committees and these committees were also used to disseminate information. Those discussions were currently under way.

Adv Masutha noted that a goodly proportion of the unemployed who had matric or less probably could not get a post matric qualification because they lacked resources for further training. He asked if the NYC or UYF had met with the Department of Education to look at what strategies were in place to mobilise more resources towards funding post matric studies. He asked if the NYC were engaging with business to ask how much of their profit was ploughed back into making bursaries available and growing the skills of the country by assisting those who had the potential but not had the resources. In other words, were the youth funds acting as a catalyst for change.

Ms Gumede noted there were youth on street corners running small stalls, and asked if they had ever been asked about their standard of education, whether they were doing what they were trained to do, and what they would like to do. She was sure that many did not have funds for education.

Mr van Rooyen clarified that the Interdepartmental Committee on Youth Affairs was set up specifically to address challenges of the placement of graduates in departments. There had been discussion at this Committee bursaries and how to improve young people’s access to the bursaries. It was not simply a question of making information available. Many did not actually apply for them. Grade 12 teachers used to help learners to apply for bursaries or apply to universities, but this was no longer being done. The NYC was working with the Department of Education to assist in getting young people to apply for bursaries before they left school. The universities would visit high schools and make schools and pupils aware of the opportunities were. The Commission would like universities to extend that to youth centres and community imbizos. The challenge was that the nature of bursaries had also changed over the last 30 years, and many companies would only offer bursaries after completion of the first year oft study, because of the huge drop out rate.

Mr van Rooyen added that the Youth Development Forum’s first meeting would also ask state owned enterprises (SOEs) to adapt their bursary guidelines to assist unemployed young people who had been out of the education system for a number of years. Some enterprises were coming up with very good models, for example the SAB Kick-Start model that helped to train in business skills. Start-up funding, coaching, and incubation would be provided. The Youth Development Forum would like to see this model taken further.

National Youth Commission (NYC) Briefing on current programmes
Mr E Van Rooyen briefed the Committee on some of the current programmes of the NYC, noting that these were linked in particular to ASGISA, JIPSA, and the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). The National Youth Service Programme (NYSP) was run in partnership with the UYF, focusing on the key areas where young people acquired skills while rendering services. The Youth Development Practitioners Learnership (YDPL) would be done in partnership with SALGA and was due to start in September 2007. This would increase the involvement of young people in local municipalities and increase their involvement in the ward committees, which would then enable the Commission to have increased flow of information and access to programmes. Other programmes existed to address substance abuse, because it was often found that those abusing drugs did so because they had no other form of recreation. Therefore one of the alternatives was to set up programmes to get young people to participate in sport, whether they were still at  schools or in communities. This was in line with the Mass Participation in Sport programme. However, it must also be recognised that other youth would prefer arts and culture and here there were also programmes.

Mr van Rooyen noted that the review of the Chapter 9 institutions was ongoing, and some key issues and challenges had been placed before the Committee dealing with the process. It was indicated, amongst others, that the policy on youth should become a national guideline for all eighteen departments because it would be clear on youth development indicators. In addition it was recommended that the NYC should be able to interact much more closely with the provincial youth commissions (PYC). The Premier’s offices should strengthen the PYCs to be able to deliver on their mandate and the Joint Monitoring Committee should increase its oversight role to bring PYCs also to account, because although they did not account to the National Youth Commission, they were key to implementing campaigns and programmes.

Ms Motsoahae gave a brief overview on the National Youth Service Programme, indicating that on this programme NYC was working with the UYF and its specialised unit on youth service. She explained that the National Youth Service was a second economy government initiative launched in 2004 to engage young people in service activities that were aimed at nation building whilst providing opportunities for learning.

The objectives of the NYS were to inculcate the spirit of patriotism through reconstruction. During the struggle people were willing to give their services to communities, but after democracy were unsure what contribution they could make to society. The NYS was making a concerted effort to indicate that young people could make valuable contributions to society. It provided opportunities for young people to communicate in bridge-building their opportunities, and inculcated a spirit of nationhood and patriotism among the young people. The truth of the matter was that there was a shortage of skills in South Africa, and NYS was aimed at finding ways in which those people who had left school at Grade 8 level or less could still  contribute within the communities, gain skills and thereby become better people. She gave an example of engagement in a national housing project where young people, mostly from rural areas, who had left school at an early stage without any livelihood or the necessary skills to access economic opportunities, were asked to work in construction projects. Gradually they became skilled in areas of construction and quite a number of them had bettered themselves and were now participating in the economy. Some had become entrepreneurs, and had set up construction companies as a result of the certificates awarded. This also addressed the levels of unemployment.

The NYS model consisted of three pillars: structured learning, individual development and exit opportunities.
Any learning was accredited. Individual development was addressed through individuals being able to complete programmes, which not only gave them specific skills but also were directed to life skills and programmes focusing on patriotism and nation building. Exit opportunities were very important and addressed the issue of employment. Many young people who were involved in a NYS project opted to become entrepreneurs, or decided to go on to FET colleges or to universities. The CTS programme allowed for participants to be absorbed into the private sector, and provided access to finance for tertiary study. NYS continued to provide after care support, and had started tracking of young people through an audit exercise, that provide information on the impact of NYS.

It was noted that Ms Hlubi headed the National Youth Service Unit within Umsobomvu,  Ms Motsoahae headed the National Youth Service in the NYC, and that the Minister and President coordinated the functions of the NYS through both institutions. The Presidency and Policy Unit was also involved. The programme had been implemented since 1994 and it was quickly discovered that this programme would not make any impact if good relationships were not forged with government departments. Therefore the implementers met Directors General and officials to encourage them to come on board to help implement these programmes.

It was further discovered that it was essential to have proper orientation at the beginning of the NYS programmes. The programmes to produce accredited skills lasted around eighteen months and during that time participants would receive an allowance of R100 in accordance with the implementation plan. However, that was in the process of review, and it was noted that despite this some people would leave  part-way through a programme, having got a sense of opportunities for employment elsewhere. Others would simply drop out. A possible way to address these problems was to undergo more vigorous training that would seek to address the levels at the beginning of the projects.

Ms Motsoahae suggested that the Committee should perhaps hear the input from one or two young people who had been through a NYS programme, who could tell who they were before the programme, and what they had become because of the course.

Ms Motsoahae noted that funding remained a challenge. Since the Deputy President had come on board there had been some improvements, and there was a closer relationship being developed. Communication was vital. This was a huge programme and many countries were able to rate their development goals through the NYS programme, and the more visible it was to young people through television, radios or billboards, the more this contributed to the country, patriotism and nationhood.

The specific projects for 2007/08 were outlined, and it was indicated that these were in areas such as health and hygiene, and programmes for the care of vulnerable children, where 300 youth had been trained to support child headed households. The ‘Big Brother’ / ‘Big Sister’ mentorship was an initiative where employed youth and adults would volunteer their services for the benefit of vulnerable communities, for example helping young people access grants where needed, or help and mentor a particular family with their various needs. This would also assist in setting up lines for times of crisis. 

The CEO had touched on the promotion of health, lifestyle and risky behaviour. The NYS would be delivering a huge national programme for young people and talking to other young people about living a less risky life.

Mr Waters asked how many youth had gone through the programme since 2004, and what was envisaged as the maximum number of youth that could be taken through the programme in any given year.

Ms Motsoahae said that the numbers were largely informed by the President’s State of the Nation Address. This year 30 000 young people were to be included in the second category model of the NYS. The normal NYS programme was meant to accommodate about 20 000 people. However, a directive had been issued this year to work with 50 000 and she assumed next year this would be expected to go higher.

Ms Hlubi informed the Committee that to date the NYS programme had trained 50 000 young people.

Mr Waters noted that the youth could volunteer for work and gain certification and accreditation. However, he wondered whether youth who helped families in applying for grants or ID books were really being enabled to do something for themselves once they left the programme.

Ms Motsoahae noted that young people that were engaged in helping people access services at Home Affairs were not in the first category of NYS, which was intended to help young people get skills and certification. The assistance to families was at the volunteer level of providing service, not gaining skills.

Ms Hlubi added that Category 1 trainees received the kind of training that would enable them to access opportunities. Young people might be trained on community development so that at the end of the day they were able to use that qualification on exit to develop on opportunities around community development.

Mr Waters asked what the annual budget was for the Youth Commission, and how much it received from government every year.

Ms Hlubi stated that R80 million had been allocated by National Treasury to implement the National Youth Service Programme, although this did not cover all the costs of the programme. Government departments had to budget for costs related to training, and they also provided the stipend and supported in providing service opportunities, as well as helping in identifying exit opportunities. That R80 million covered activities like basic development training, entrepreneurship training that was done by the unit, project management support, and all the costs relating to other forms of training. NYS was now in the process of rounding up the eighteen government departments to find out how much each department had set aside for the NYS programme so they could get an idea of the holistic budget.

Mr van Rooyen added that NYC’s total budget was R20.2 million, which explained why they had capacity challenges, as compared to the budget for this programme alone. The NYS unit needed to be strengthened to be able to unblock more opportunities for young people. Currently there was neither the staff nor the budget to do that.

Mr Waters noted that the attempts to get children to participate in sport were noble, but there was a major difficulty in lack of sports facilities, both in rural areas and in townships, particularly of facilities such as swimming pools or netball courts. He asked what NYC was doing to ensure those facilities were being provided.

Mr van Rooyen noted that part of the campaign around the mass mobilisation of young people in sport did also focus on the issue of facilities in rural areas. In Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape NYC and UYF were bringing in business and talking to local government. Two beautiful stadiums were situated in East London right next door to each other, while Mdantsane lacked sports infrastructure. Meetings had been held with the  local Metro to try to take these games to these areas in order to make them aware if they wanted the programmes to be sustainable, then infrastructure and upgrading of facilities must take place.

Mr Waters asked for more details on the We Don’t Do Drugs Campaign, in particular how many schools had been approached, who was going to the schools and who was doing the training.  According to two parliamentary replies he received from the Minister of Social Development, the National Drug Master Plan required NYC to provide a mini drug programme every year in April. However, NYC had apparently failed  to do that last year, despite getting two extensions, and had also failed to provide, by 31 March, a report to the  Central Drug Authority on the progress of implementation of the mini drug plan. He asked if this information was correct, and how a drug campaign could be run without the plans having been submitted.

Mr van Rooyen explained that NYC’s member who was mainly responsible for the drug programme had left, creating a major void that NYC was now in the process of filling. The campaign had not been launched yet because of this void and capacity problems, and NYC had indeed been unable to meet certain obligations. The Commission was dealing with those internal capacity problems. The drug programme the Commission had participated in during the 2007 Summit this year was but one programme, and it must be noted that there were numerous other programmes and eighteen other departments to deal with. NYC was busy  responding to all those challenges and dealing with them. In addition, there needed to be synergy between the Ke Moja Drug Education Programme and the NYC Drug Plan. NYC were not implementing agents, although they were often expected to implement pilot programmes, which was simply not in their function. He hoped that the ad hoc committee dealing with the review of Chapter 9 institutions would be able to strengthen their role, or give a clear guidance as to exactly what their role was expected to be.

Adv Masutha commended the presentation. However, he noted that one of the problems identified with interacting with the youth on substance abuse was the proliferation of drug syndicates and the growing supply that made drugs more freely and cheaply available. Other problems were that youth were unengaged, bored, poor and not sufficiently socially active. Sponsorship was needed. In addition SALGA needed to become involved because everybody was complaining that the municipalities were not coming on board; to participate in the local drug forums and other structures where these issues could be confronted. Adv Masutha indicated that several years ago there were social, political or religious activities, but now there seemed to be a drop generally in such activities, so that young people seemed to spend more time in shebeens and bars. He asked if there were strategies to mobilise churches or political parties to encourage them to run programmes to nurture their constituency.

Mr van Rooyen noted that the Youth Moral Regeneration Programme would be launched this year and would specifically be targeting religious youth because they were the largest constituency and were not involved in government programmes. They would be one of the key focus areas to bring them into the mainstream programmes of government. NYC was working on this as well.

Ms X Makasi (ANC) asked how NYS programmes were conveyed to the youth. Few youths in her constituency were a part of this programme. When youths were sent to the UYF they became disillusioned and said they did not receive anything and therefore had lost hope.

Ms Motsoahae noted that there were challenges to iron out with all the stakeholders regarding the recruitment of young people. Recruitment was done through provincial commissions on the understanding that they must liase and understand the needs of young people. They worked with the South African Youth Council (SAYC) and with other youth formations. NYC and UYF tried to bring everybody on board, including government departments. She would attempt to take the matter further.

The Chairperson commented that the Committee had wanted Mr van Rooyen to brief it apart from the other departments of government. It wanted to know what was the feeling of the UYF regarding issues like the moral regeneration programme. The Committee’s interaction had been based on concerns that certain services were not being delivered at ground level. At a future meeting a report back would be needed.

Ms Nomathemba Kela, Chief Director, Department Social Development (DSD), commented that there were a lot of areas where DSD collaborated with the NYC and there was room to strengthen that collaboration, particularly in areas such as disability, and ensuring that they should support each other in reaching out to disabled youth. In many of the matters raised, a number of different department were already contributing indirectly and so DSD needed to look at how to quantify that participation. As an example, DSD was already targeting young people to enter training programmes for auxiliary social workers, and that needed to be quantified so that the Youth Commission’s support was seen in context.

Ms Kela agreed that the issue of substance abuse was quite critical. She called on NYC to assist, especially now that they were working towards the annual report of the Central Drug Authority, at which NYC had a representative. Participation from all the departments was necessary, and if this was not forthcoming then it must be reported to Parliament or to Cabinet. The  departments were committed to the programme as a whole. She said that it was enlightening to hear the presentations.
The meeting was adjourned.


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