TO­WARDS EQUAL AC­CESS TO ED­U­CA­TION AND ECO­NOMIC OP­POR­TU­NI­TIES

Public Sector Manager - - Feature -

So­cial com­men­ta­tors ac­knowl­edge there is a link be­tween so­cial in­jus­tice and South Africa’s triple ills of poverty, in­equal­ity and un­em­ploy­ment. Mem­bers of our com­mu­ni­ties who do not en­joy the same ben­e­fits as oth­ers be­cause of their phys­i­cal and men­tal con­di­tion, ed­u­ca­tion level and ge­o­graphic lo­ca­tion are sus­cep­ti­ble to vary­ing so­cial in­jus­tices. Break­ing the grip of so­cial in­jus­tice in South Africa should be­gin with equal ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion and eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties.

RE­DEMP­TION FOR THE DEAF IN SKILLS DEVEL­OP­MENT

Dur­ing the State of the Na­tion Ad­dress 2018, Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa re­it­er­ated gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to pro­vid­ing eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties. He specif­i­cally noted Amavu­landlela Fund­ing Scheme, es­tab­lished by the Small En­ter­prise Fi­nance Agency to pro­vide busi­ness fi­nance to en­trepreneurs with dis­abil­i­ties. He added that Sign Lan­guage will be of­fered as a Home Lan­guage as of 2018, to en­able deaf learn­ers to write the Na­tional Se­nior Cer­tifi­cate ex­am­i­na­tion in South African Sign Lan­guage (SASL). This is a long sought-af­ter break­through for the deaf com­mu­nity that trans­lates into a ma­tric cer­tifi­cate and ac­cess to uni­ver­si­ties. It is dif­fi­cult for peo­ple with hear­ing dif­fi­cul­ties to en­ter the labour mar­ket be­cause they of­ten do not have the min­i­mum re­quire­ments such as a ma­tric cer­tifi­cate The Pres­i­dent also ac­knowl­edged the role NGOs and com­mu­nity-based or­gan­i­sa­tions play in ad­dress­ing the triple ills. This per­cep­tion aligns with that of Trans­port Ed­u­ca­tion Train­ing Au­thor­ity (TETA). In pro­mot­ing in­clu­sive ed­u­ca­tion, TETA part­nered with Deaf Em­pow­er­ment Firm (DEF) to pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties to youth with hear­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. DEF be­lieves skills devel­op­ment can re­deem the deaf youth from the claws of low ed­u­ca­tion lev­els, low­in­come jobs and lim­ited par­tic­i­pa­tion in eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties. The so­cial en­ter­prise there­fore part­nered with TETA to pro­vide a learn­er­ship pro­gramme to 48 deaf young peo­ple which will re­sult in an ac­cred­ited qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

or col­lege/univer­sity qual­i­fi­ca­tion. Most schools spe­cial­is­ing in ed­u­ca­tion for the deaf do not of­fer a ma­tric cur­ricu­lum and teach­ers in some of these schools have not ac­quired flu­ency in SASL. This leads to a high rate of the deaf pop­u­la­tion leav­ing school with­out a ma­tric cer­tifi­cate and not pur­su­ing post-school qual­i­fi­ca­tions. “Our vi­sion is driven by the pre­scripts of Ar­ti­cles 24 and 27 of the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Rights of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties and its op­tional pro­to­col, to which South Africa is a sig­na­tory, as well as Strate­gic Pil­lar 5 of the White Pa­per on the Rights of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties, all of which speak to the ques­tion of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties gain­ing ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties,” said DEF Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Sikelelwa Msit­shana. Msit­shana also ex­pressed her grat­i­tude to­wards other part­ner­ing com­pa­nies in this ini­tia­tive for open­ing their doors to of­fer the learn­ers in­tern­ships and/or work­place ex­po­sure. The Au­rum In­sti­tute took learn­ers into fields such as train­ing, data cap­tur­ing, op­er­a­tions and hu­man re­sources. Bridge­wa­ter Lo­gis­tics is ex­pos­ing learn­ers to re­ceiv­ing, packing, stock-tak­ing, ad­min­is­tra­tion, de­liv­ery and courier func­tions. The hos­pi­tal­ity com­pany Ukhweza came on board and placed DEF learn­ers at WITS Univer­sity din­ing halls and Medi­clinic Mid­stream, ex­pos­ing them to var­i­ous cater­ing and hos­pi­tal­ity fields.

UN­LOCK­ING ECO­NOMIC OP­POR­TU­NI­TIES FOR THE YOUTH

Net­worx for Ca­reer Devel­op­ment en­rolled 200 grad­u­ates in a Work­place Readi­ness Pro­gramme (WRP). The pro­gramme, fi­nan­cially sup­ported by TETA, ex­posed grad­u­ates to ba­sic em­ploy­a­bil­ity skills which in­clude com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, busi­ness eti­quette, pre­sen­ta­tion skills, con­flict man­age­ment, busi­ness writ­ing, in­ter­per­sonal skills and self-man­age­ment. The pro­gramme achieved 90% com­ple­tion rate and more than 67% em­ploy­ment rate on a per­ma­nent, con­tract or fixed-term ba­sis. The train­ing was rolled out in dif­fer­ent phases, span­ning six months. The first two months of the pro­gramme fo­cused on class­room-based men­tor­ing and the re­main­ing four months fo­cused on prac­ti­cal skills in a sim­u­lated work­place en­vi­ron­ment, fol­lowed by prac­ti­cal work­place coach­ing. Grad­u­ates re­ceived train­ing through en­try-level po­si­tions in (among oth­ers) lo­gis­tics, freight, HR, fi­nance, ad­min­is­tra­tion, call cen­tre, sup­ply chain and IT de­part­ments. The South African youth pop­u­la­tion (be­tween the ages of 15 and 24) ac­counts for 10 mil­lion of the over­all pop­u­la­tion. Of the 10 mil­lion, 55.9% were re­port­edly un­em­ployed in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2017. A lack of ad­e­quate em­ploy­a­bil­ity skills and the in­abil­ity to push through the chal­lenges of en­try job po­si­tions are of­ten cited as some of the rea­sons be­hind the high un­em­ploy­ment rate among the youth. Com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Net­worx help to bridge the gap be­tween the knowl­edge and skills that grad­u­ates pos­sess, and the skills de­mands in the labour mar­ket. Com­ment­ing on the feed­back re­ceived from par­tic­i­pat­ing grad­u­ates and em­ploy­ers thus far, Ur­sula Dlamini of Net­worx said, “Grad­u­ates high­lighted the amount of per­sonal devel­op­ment ac­quired dur­ing the pro­gramme and how this has greatly as­sisted them in ad­just­ing and cop­ing with work­place de­mands. The em­ployer feed­back high­lighted the high cal­iber of grad­u­ates de­ployed. We are in­un­dated with re­quests for the next roll-out from em­ploy­ers.” Net­worx ac­knowl­edges that other part­ners in this project, Women in Busi­ness To­day and trans­port sec­tor em­ploy­ers specif­i­cally, played a cru­cial role in the suc­cess of the pro­gramme. Net­worx’s WRP was rolled out in the Western Cape, Free State, Gaut­eng and KwaZulu-Na­tal. The pres­sure on gov­ern­ment agen­cies to ad­dress the triple ills rob­bing South Africa of its progress to­wards a bet­ter life for all its cit­i­zen is real. But our com­mu­nity part­ners have been play­ing cru­cial roles in help­ing us make a no­table im­pact for many mem­bers of our so­ci­ety who are af­fected by the triple ills.

Net­worx par­tic­i­pants

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