Today we officially launch the consultative process for the National Youth Policy. The primary purpose of the National Youth Policy drafting process is to ensure that we have in place youth development programmes that respond to the challenges faced by the youth of our country; programmes that enable young people to have agency and take charge of their destiny. When adopted in March, this policy must be about the shaping of young people as active and productive citizens. We move from the premise that energy of the youth and creativity of young people must be harnessed for the country to realise the demographic dividend.
The challenges of youth development in South Africa mirror the broader historical socio-economic challenges which are part of the legacy of our past as a country. Thus the resolution of these challenges faced by the youth cannot happen outside the resolution of the broad socio-economic challenges embedded in every facet of our body politic.
It is within this broad context that we have spoken time and again of an Integrated Youth Development Strategy. To ensure the implementation of this youth policy; the youth desk in the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation assisted by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) as secretariat will craft the youth development strategy. It is important to emphasise that the National Youth Policy 2020 will inform the strategy. In order to avoid confusion allow me to explain in brief what we mean by policy and what we mean by strategy. By this National Youth Policy, we mean the various tasks and processes that must be effected by government, the private sector and civil society to ensure youth development. Essentially this is the draft we are presenting to you here today.
On the other hand, by strategy we refer to the methods and tactics by which the National Youth Policy would be implemented. The importance of a distinction between policy and strategy is to enable continuous implementation of policy even if the strategy may have to be changed from time to time in line with a continuously changing environment.
The distinction between policy and strategy will enable a dedicated focus on strategy beyond the adoption of this policy. The strategy formulation process will infuse lessons from the past. For example one of the biggest mistakes of the past youth policy period 2009 – 2014 was assuming that all youth development efforts would be spearheaded through the NYDA itself. This was tantamount to planning for failure as it was inconceivable that one organisation would cater for all the youth of our country.
That is why government took the decision that youth development must reside in the Presidency and that the Minister and Deputy Minister for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation should politically head such efforts as well as the oversight of the NYDA. As The Presidency, we have as our view that youth development must cut across all government spheres, the private sector and NGO’s and CBOs. That is why this consultative process is crucial because through it, we intend to mobilise the nation as a whole behind youth development. Just like the National Development Plan, the National Youth Policy can only succeed if it has the full support of society as a whole.
International youth policy obligations
As already indicated, the drafting of this NYP is against various historical backgrounds, the most immediate being the policy regime it seeks to replace which is the NYP 2009-2014 that expired last year. In spearheading youth development, South Africa operates within international obligations such as those of the SADC, AU and the UN.
The United Nations emphasises the need for youth specific country policies and strategies that aim at enabling young people to make the right choices, protect them from exploitation and neglect and ensure their participation in all spheres of society.
South Africa is heeding the call and once again is embarking on a process of developing a youth policy. This policy which will be ready in three months’ time must respond to youth challenges; must be evidence based, inclusive and must shape young people as agents of change and not just as passive recipients of government services but as architects for their own future. This Youth Policy that the youth will be developing through their inputs is not an add-on to the national development agenda; it is the national development agenda composite to the NDP. That is why we urge those who will be making contributions to read the NDP document to enable juxtaposing their inputs with real development programmes. As we have indicated earlier, it would be futile to define youth development outside the mainstream as it would be repeating the mistakes that saw the NYDA being created as a distant “mini-government”.
Priority areas of the NYP 2015-2020
Through the initial research we have undertaken we have identified four priorities for the NYP 2015-2020 namely: enabling economic participation, facilitating skills development (quality and access), reducing morbidity and mortality due to risky behaviour and facilitating a South Africa where young people in particular will practice leadership and be more conscious of the things they have in common than their differences.
What does research tell us?
On economic participation: At 57, 8% the labour absorption rate for adults is almost twice that of young people 30,8%. This is reflective of an economy that is not growing and thus does not allow new entrants into the market. Thus resolving the problem of youth unemployment must be done in tandem with the national initiatives of transforming the economy into a labour absorbing economy. Most of what needs to be done for this to happen is articulated in the NDP, the Industrial Policy Action Plan, The Jobs accord and others.
The draft youth policy drawing heavily on the National Development Plan and other existing redress policies also begins to engage with youth black economic empowerment; economic redress as well as land reform. In the extensive consultative forum, young people will be expected to further input into these policy proposals aimed at transformation.
On Skill Development: Of the 1 million young people who exit the schooling system annually, 65% exit without achieving a Grade 12 certificate. Less than 4,3% of persons aged 18 to 29 were enrolled at a higher education institution in the country. Large numbers of youth, who possess no professional or technical skills, and who exited the education system prematurely, are effectively unemployable. About 60% of unemployed youth aged below 35 years have never worked. Without a targeted intervention, they will remain in the fringes of society. The Draft Youth Policy picks up mainly from the Skills Accord and the NDP to articulate how skills development which is definitely a high priority for young people will be made accessible to the majority of young people.
On behavioural challenges: Of the total number of deaths due to assault and intentional self-harm in the country, 69% and 59% of them, respectively, occurred among those aged 15–34 years. The abuse of alcohol, particularly, is directly linked to high levels of violence and motor vehicle accidents. Amongst youth, there is an increase in the level of experimentation with drugs and alcohol. Who can forget the mother who killed her own son because she could no longer bear living with someone who was no longer the son he raised because of the drug induced behaviour. The six leading natural causes of death for age group 15–34 in 2013 were tuberculosis (accounting for 14% of all deaths in this age group); human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] disease (10%); other viral diseases (6%); influenza and pneumonia (5%); certain disorders involving the immune mechanism (3,0%); and intestinal infectious diseases (3%). A total of these six causes all associated with HIV disease, indicating risky behaviour in terms of sexuality. This is collaborated by other evidence. For example in a study conducted by the HSRC amongst learners, the findings were among the learners who had ever had sex, 47% had two or more sexual partners in their short lifetime, only 33% practiced consistent condom use, and 18% had been pregnant or have made someone pregnant. This calls for urgent interventions.
The draft policy drawing heavily from the drug master plan spearheaded by the Department of Social Development suggests a myriad of interventions which include the building of a public drug treatment centres, one for each province and stricter enforcement of municipality bylaws dealing with restricting access to alcohol. The draft policy also talks to increased access to reproductive health care services and information so that young people are empowered to make a correct choice in relation to their sexuality.
On nation building and Social Cohesion: There is a lot that must be done for the creation of a non-racial society. Less than 4,3% of persons aged 18 to 29 enrolled at a higher education institution in the country were African, compared 18,7% of white individuals in this age group and 9,2% of Indian/Asian individuals. This is a direct result of the statistic from the NDP: Only 1 % of African schools are top performing on high school certificate results, vs. 31 % for formerly privileged schools. Urinating on a taxi driver, forcing university employees to eat food “urinated upon”, mocking Africans by painting faces black and dressing up as maids, mowing down black people in Skierlik informal settlement; all these hideous hate crimes were committed by young people who grew up in a free and democratic South Africa. This means there is still a lot of work to be done in bringing about a non-racial society as promised by the Constitution. The youth policy encourages that young people themselves must practice leadership and acts of solidarity in their communities, so that the Ubuntu mantra of I am because you are lives in the communities of South Africa.
The National Youth Policy 2020 will also look at the role of the NYDA within the entirety of the government system to achieve youth development. The NYDA remains an important instrument to ensure piloting youth development. However, the NYDA has had a bad reputation of not being available for youth development simply because of structural or institutional capacity limitations. As indicated earlier on, the NYDA cannot be panacea of all youth development challenges.
We will therefore through the youth policy 2020 ensure that the coordination, mainstreaming and oversight of youth development and youth work is not only going to be what the NYDA does but must be mainstreamed also in the work of government and other social partners.
What we expect from the consultative process
What we expect from the consultative process is that young people from every corner of South Africa must own this youth policy formulation process and the outcome. All must speak. The policy should mainly contain their needs, interests and aspirations as young people, but very importantly; this youth policy must address the trio challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty.
The best conceivable way is by ensuring that youth entrepreneurship, skills development and employment are facilitated in a radical manner. The strategy that will be derived from policy 2020 will contribute to ensuring that this policy sees the light of day in the lived experiences of the youth of our country.
This policy is about the youth, for the youth and by the youth of South Africa!
Lastly, allow me to express our profound gratitude to the media for inviting us to be here today and unpack this very important development process. The media is very important in many respects with regards to our development as it is the voice that extends to all our people. We urge you to continually support us in informing our young people of the many ways they can be part of this process.
We will be meeting with the youth organisations and formations across the board to hear first-hand what they have to say to help inform this NYP formulation process. We will be announcing shortly a detailed programme that will cover every province. In addition, we will welcome inputs from all quarters of South African society through emails which will also be popularized for this very purpose. We are also not limiting the consultative process to just young people, but young and old should comment and make their voices heard. While we expect youth formations to make submissions on the NYP, we nonetheless invite all young people irrespective of affiliations or non-affiliations to any organisation, to make a contribution.
For more information visit: http://www.thepresidency.gov.za/MediaLib/Downloads/Downloads/Draft%20Nat…
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SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS