Young folk in dire need of concrete as­sis­tance

The Mercury - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

WE NEED TO stop the much-talked-about youth de­vel­op­ment and start implementing the youth pro­grammes, so that our youth are em­pow­ered and see eco­nomic free­dom in their life­time. Youth of to­day are called the lost gen­er­a­tion, and my ques­tion is whose fault is it? Whose fault is it when the youth of to­day com­mit them­selves to al­co­hol and drug abuse.

We have been locked in meet­ings and board­rooms dis­cussing youth pro­grammes and chal­lenges for too long. Now it’s time for less talk and more im­ple­men­ta­tion.

Every year, on June 16, South Africa com­mem­o­rates the 1976 Soweto up­ris­ing to pay trib­ute to learn­ers who stood up against the apartheid govern­ment.

They stood to­gether and laid down their lives, fight­ing for free­dom and the right to equal ed­u­ca­tion. Ob­served as a public hol­i­day, the day serves as a re­minder that young peo­ple in the coun­try were at the fore­front of our strug­gle. It also pro­vides us with an op­por­tu­nity to take stock of the strides we have made in ad­dress­ing is­sues fac­ing the youth.

It’s not a day to just be merry, braai and be drunk, as the youth of to­day are known to do. In South Africa we not only com­mem­o­rate Youth Day, but ded­i­cate the en­tire month of June to the youth.

This year’s Youth Month takes place in the same year that South Africa will be mark­ing the cen­te­nar­ies of both Nel­son Man­dela and Al­bertina Sisulu. These giants of the Strug­gle fought tooth and nail to see the eman­ci­pa­tion of youth be­come a re­al­ity.

We need to en­cour­age the youth to study agri­cul­ture and not look down on the farm­ing sec­tor, be­cause this is where their wealth is and where they will be able to con­trib­ute to the econ­omy, create job op­por­tu­ni­ties, fight poverty and mal­nu­tri­tion and, most im­por­tantly, en­sure food se­cu­rity.

The slow pace of poverty and hunger re­duc­tion points to an ur­gent need for strate­gies to em­power the youth to tar­get ar­eas where poor peo­ple live and the ac­tiv­i­ties on which their lives de­pend.

A suc­cess­ful strat­egy for al­le­vi­at­ing poverty and hunger must be­gin by recog­nis­ing that agri­cul­ture is at the heart of the liveli­hood of ru­ral peo­ple.

Small­holder farm­ers pro­duce more than 70 per­cent of the world’s food sup­ply, yet shock­ingly they rep­re­sent more than 50 per­cent of the world’s hun­gri­est peo­ple.

Now that is where the youth need to fo­cus their en­ergy.

Land re­form in our coun­try has been at the cen­tre stage of talks, but where are the youth in these dis­cus­sions? Give them the op­por­tu­nity to pros­per and they can cul­ti­vate a promis­ing eco­nomic fu­ture that de­liv­ers ben­e­fits for all.

Youth Month comes less than three months since Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa launched the Youth Em­ploy­ment Ser­vice ini­tia­tive that aims to pre­pare young peo­ple for work through train­ing and match­ing pro­grammes. It is a busi­ness-led ini­tia­tive in part­ner­ship with the govern­ment, labour and civil so­ci­ety that will of­fer 1 mil­lion young South Africans paid work ex­pe­ri­ences over the next three years. I urge our youth to wake up and seize this op­por­tu­nity to build our coun­try and re­turn it to its right­ful place. TSHEPO DIALE NKWE ES­TATE

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