South Africa and Namibia have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) that will see the National Youth Service playing a much stronger role in youth development in the two countries.
The MoC was signed by Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Collins Chabane and Namibian Minister responsible for Youth National Service, Sport and Culture Jerry Ekandjo at the Union Buildings recently.
Speaking before the signing of the MoC, the chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), Yershen Pillay, said: “We have much to share and learn from each other, given the highly structured and effective youth service programmes in our respective countries.”
Pillay said the NYDA and Namibia’s National Youth Service (NYS) would immediately get to work in implementing the Youth Service Exchange programme, where Namibian and South African youth will engage in community development work from February 2014 to February 2015.
“This will not be a memorandum on paper but an organic, practical and sustainable programme for youth development.
“Youth will be given vocational training to acquire skills in metal fabrication, plumbing, cabinet making and bricklaying,” he said.
In South Africa, Pillay said the youth would undergo leadership development and youth development foundation training. After completing the training, they will be deployed to render youth development services to young people at NYDA branches countrywide.
In South Africa, approximately 138 000 young South Africans are enrolled in the National Youth Service.
Through the MoC, the NYDA chairperson said young Namibians and South Africans would work together to fight poverty, inequality and underdevelopment.
“Together we will develop skills through youth service and utilise those skills to build our respective countries, thus ensuring peace and progress in the region.
“The significance of the MoC is the venue where we are signing the agreement (the Union Buildings), which is one of the building blocks of dismantling what apartheid [did to] us and Namibia,” said Minister Chabane.
The Minister said the two countries shared a common history, and it was important for youth of SA and Namibia to work towards a united future.
“We are confident that if we combine our strength, we will be able to integrate the region - not only Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, but the SADC region in general, working together to fight the issue of youth unemployment and lack of skills.”
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula was also present as the signing.
“Sports play a critical role in terms of social cohesion and nation-building. What divides us are the borders, but in reality, we are one people.
“The signing of the MoC signifies unity of purpose going forward between our two countries. From our side, we will work together to ensure that we build sound relations to enhance bonds of human solidarity between South Africa and Namibia.”
Ekandjo said the youth of his country also faced similar challenges of employment and lack of skills.
“We commit to working with South Africa on this critical issue of youth development and empowerment,” he said.
The MoC, which has been approved by the South Africa Cabinet, is also intended to formalise and strengthen relations in the area of youth empowerment and development.
It will further encourage mutual cooperation between youth development institutions and organisations in both countries.
The two countries will promote cooperation in areas such as leadership development; exchange of information on youth development research; the promotion of access to finance for business development and support of youth owned enterprises; the sharing of experience in areas that enhance social cohesion such as sports, arts, culture and heritage; and the sharing of best practices in the area of youth development.
The parties also agreed to host joint workshops and seminars; exchange visits and jointly organising meetings and conferences in both countries; exchange training curricular for managers and staff of institutions responsible for youth development; exchange documentation and information on youth development and monitor, evaluate and report on implementation of the MoC.