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Equipping rural youth for success

Written by Nthambeleni Gabara
New hope and opportunities are coming to the country’s rural landscape, with the National Rural Youth Service Corps (Narysec) set to speed up the development path of these areas by fighting unemployment.

Graduates of the National Rural Youth Service Corps now have the opportunity to better their lives and that of their communities thanks to the skills they gained through the programme.Recently, 6 000 young people from the Narysec programme at Thaba Nchu College of Education in the Free State – a moment Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti described as a turning point in rural life.

“In the coming years, we will be talking about a changed and different rural (life) in South Africa. It is equally reasonable to predict that because our intervention of skilling and creating employment for our young people in our rural areas through Narysec is bearing fruit,” he said.

Narysec is an important skills development programme that is transforming young people in the rural areas from being job seekers to being job creators, breaking the vicious cycle of social grant dependency.

The then Deputy Minister in the Presidency: Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Obed Bapela, noted the programme’s role in roping in young people from the fringes of economic activity.

“The Presidency is the developer of youth policies in the country. Narysec is indeed becoming an intervention programme taking young people, who are unskilled and unemployed in the rural areas, and giving them a second opportunity to be able to get the necessary skills to either seek employment or start their own entrepreneurial opportunities.

“It is a very good programme and it has been supported and sustained. We hope that other departments will develop their own programmes that are similar to Narysec to [counter the] challenge of youth skills development,” he said.

Narysec: a brief history

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform launched Narysec in 2011 to give opportunities to rural youth between the ages of 18 - 35 by equipping them with skills such as plumbing, farming, game ranging, electricity and animal husbandry.

The learning programmes are linked to the economic priorities in the respective provinces of the youth service corps, who also go through extensive workplace practical training. This is a requirement for qualification as an artisan.

The future leaders also undergo character development and leadership training at the South African National Defence Force for four months after being recruited into the programme.

The participants are then expected to do community service in their communities.

Minister Nkwinti said to date, about 14 000 youngsters had been enrolled in the department’s long-term programme. In 2012, the recruitment drive for the youth programme was increased to six youth per rural ward, with an emphasis on the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) sites, where the numbers are more than 10 youth per CRDP site.

The participants in Narysec were also given opportunities when they completed training through the Rural Enterprise Industrial Development (REID) programme, which aims to build sustainable rural economies.

At the graduation ceremony of the 6 000 youth, Free State Premier Ace Magashule handed over Thaba Nchu College of Education to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.

The college has now become the headquarters of the Narysec programme in the country and will also be used as the permanent exhibition centre of the 1913 Land Act Exhibition.