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Govt urges youth to move SA forward

Written by Neo Semono

Youth matters

Government is expected to launch a R10 million scholarship fund to help youth, especially those in rural areas, to further their studies after school.

President Jacob Zuma made the announcement about the new Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship Fund, which will be launched this month, at the recent Presidential Youth Indaba on Jobs and Skills.Photo caption: Speaking at the Presidential Youth Indaba on Jobs and Skills, President Jacob Zuma urged the youth to dream about a prosperous South Africa.

“On the 14th of March, we will launch the new Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship Fund, run by the NYDA (National Youth Development Agency). This is a R10 million fund designed to provide financial support to youth primarily in rural areas,” said President Zuma. The fund serves as a living memorial to freedom fighter Solomon Mahlangu (1956-1979) and its purpose is to give financial support to youth to help them to pursue quality education at an institution of higher learning.

The fund is accessible to deserving South African youth who meet the minimum entry requirements set by the NYDA - youth who have been admitted for study at credible universities and universities of technology, locally and internationally.

Addressing the indaba attended by about 500 young people from across the country, President Zuma urged the youth to dream big to move South Africa forward.

The indaba, which was held over four days, was a platform to give effect to the Youth Employment Accord as the country tries to find solutions to the high unemployment rate, especially among the youth.

The accord aims to improve the education and skilling of young people, as well as help them find jobs and start their own businesses.

In it, government also commits to increase the number of people employed in the public sector.

 “You must dream about a prosperous South Africa, we dreamt about freedom and it happened,” said the President.

Government is investing heavily in education. To date over 8 000 youth been assisted to rewrite their matric, while 12 per cent of the population now hold a postgraduate qualification, up from 7 per cent in 1996.

The investment in education is designed to prepare youth for the second phase of the country’s freedom, “that of meaningful economic emancipation”, said President Zuma. Government believes that education and skills development is the most powerful weapon that the youth will need to run the economy.

South Africa has to build an inclusive economy that creates jobs and reflects the demographics of the country. Ownership, control and management of the economy has to be changed working together with business, labour and communities.

President Zuma asked the youth to start thinking about their contribution to growing an inclusive economy.

Speaking at the indaba, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said progress had been made since the signing of the accord in April 2013.

“There are now just over 6.1 million youth who are employed. Since the signing, youth employment rose by 420 000, the biggest rise in youth employment in a long, long time,” said Minister Patel.

In their declaration on the third day of the Indaba, youth movements (led by the South African Youth Council) reaffirmed their commitment to the accord as being the framework for youth employment.

The President also asked the youth to familiarise themselves with the NDP, which outlines a growing economy and creates jobs.

“Within the NDP are some instruments that we want you to know and understand very well as young people,” said the President.

He also stressed the importance of skilling and education the country’s youth.

“Youth development and empowerment is critical to the success of our democracy,” President Zuma added.