Boksburg: While government continues to invest in education and skills development, President Jacob Zuma has urged the youth to dream big and to help the country move towards meaningful economic emancipation.
“You must dream about a prosperous South Africa, we dreamt about freedom and it happened,” said President Zuma on Sunday.
The President was addressing the Presidential Youth Indaba on Jobs and Skills which kicked off on Friday.
He said government is investing heavily in education. “To date over 8 000 youth have been assisted to rewrite their matric. The results in 2013 were an impressive 78% pass rate.
“At the level of Higher Education, 12 % of our population now hold a postgraduate qualification up from 7% in 1996. Student enrolments at colleges have increased by 90%. There are increases in enrolments at universities and universities of technology as well,” the President said.
It is government’s belief that education and skills development are the most powerful weapon that the youth will need to enable them to run the country’s economy.
“This investment in education is thus designed to prepare our youth for the second phase of freedom, that of meaningful economic emancipation,” said the President, adding that the country has to build an inclusive economy that creates jobs, but importantly also one that reflects the demographics of the country.
He said the ownership, control and management of the economy has to be changed, working with business, labour and the community sector.
Ownership of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange has changed only slightly since the dawn of freedom, but the President welcomed the fact that over R600 billion in black economic empowerment transactions have been recorded since 1995.
The percentage of black people and women in senior management has increased from less than 10% in the 1990s to over 40% today.
President Zuma asked the youth comprised of youngsters’ from across the nine provinces gathered at the Indaba to start thinking about their contribution to growing an inclusive economy and to moving the country forward.
National Development Plan (NDP)
President Zuma told the youth that as of this year government policies will be guided by the National Development Plan (NDP) that outlines a growing economy and creates jobs among other things.
He asked the youth to familiarise themselves with the plan.
“Within the NDP are some instruments that we want you to know and understand very well as young people,” he said.
The President noted that the youth had pointed out their issues of concern such as work experience and finding the first funding to become an entrepreneur.
The President said he was pleased that the heads of funding agencies like the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) were in attendance at the Indaba, which will conclude tomorrow.
In the past year, the Industrial Development Cooperation (IDC) and Sefa had approved funding of more than R160 million for young entrepreneurs.
“They have homework to do now,” he told a packed room of delegates.
Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP)
To help address the country’s unemployment problem, government launched the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) in 2004, with phase two launched in April 2009.
Between April 2009 and September 2013, 3.7 million work opportunities were created.
EPWP is targeted at women and the youth with 54% women and 50% of youth having benefited from the programme.
To date, 277 out of 278 municipalities have signed protocol agreements, committing them to achieve their EPWP targets.
“Youth development and empowerment is critical to the success of our democracy,” said the President.
President Zuma received a warm welcome on the third day of the Indaba held at Birchwood Conference Centre. Following his address the President sang struggle songs along with the youth, who gathered at the Indaba.
SOURCE: South African Official News