Avishkar Govender
Avishkar Govender

Does the opposition have a youth development plan?

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) is being established after having been created in terms of the National Youth Development Agency Act, Act 54 of 2008, by Parliament. Fundamentally every person involved with the NYDA must be a qualified and registered youth development practitioner in order for the NYDA to be able to be the thing that it is supposed to be in and by itself.

The process of professionalizing youth development practice will lead ultimately to:

  • A diploma or higher qualification in youth development, like the one currently offered by Unisa.
  • Compulsory registration as a youth development practitioner with an appropriate statutory council established to register and regulate professions, like the South African Social Services Council.
  • An obligation upon the NYDA to fund and facilitate the upskilling and training of youth development practitioners.

This much is clearly evident and though the NYDA will only be publicly launched on June 16, and though the operational and practical implementation modus operandi of the NYDA is currently being created, it is reassuring to know that we are now approaching youth development from an integrated and holistic perspective. It will bring the national youth commission, the provincial youth commissions, the Umsobomvu Youth Fund and other statutory youth development entities into one focused agency.

The NYDA was created by Parliament without many objections from the opposition. Why is this? Why did the opposition not produce an alternative to Parliament?

Recently the department of social development hosted the second national youth work policy consultative conference where the process of finalising the modalities of youth development practice as a profession, was determined.

At this conference, the ANC Youth League presented an overview of the NYDA and made a commitment to being actively involved in the process of professionalizing youth development practice.

The IFP Youth Brigade did not attend to present their alternative of a youth ministry but my colleagues who are youth ministers in other countries, indicate that youth ministries do not, in general, receive enough scope, mandate and resources. And though youth ministries are invited to represent the youth to government most do not have oversight over other fundamental youth-focused ministries, like education.

I have been very impressed with the process of ensuring that people who intervene in the lives of young people, do so on a professional and competent basis. And in the same way that the HPCSA ensures that medical practitioners are not able to exploit the vulnerability of their patients, the SASSC ensures that youth development practitioners help rather than harm the youth who are by nature, all vulnerable in some way. This will lead to a better quality of intervention in the lives of young people and will achieve better results in the process of empowering young people.

However, one would have expected the opposition to have proposed an alternative to the NYDA and to have participated in the process of the professionalisation of youth development practitioners.

Naturally, having no time between sessions of bashing the ANC, the opposition has demonstrated what it has to offer young people and that is, nothing of any consequence. I’m sure that some of you will accuse me of ignoring the many ideas contained in the many manifestos and though you may think that you are correct, the fact is that I have looked at them all and have dismissed them as being nothing new, innovative or that which is not in place or in the process of becoming in place already.

I will also not waste your time explaining the ethical implications of making a false offer, but in my mind, if someone solicits my vote on the basis of promising me something which I already have, then it is clear that there’s no value in voting for such a party. Unfortunately the opposition is in such a predicament, having tried to solicit my vote for their party(ies) on the basis of the manifesto and the achievements (in youth development) of the ANC.

In anticipation of some vitriolic attack on the leadership of the ANC Youth League, intended as a response to this blog – may I say that if your own youth leaders actually believed in the policies of your parties, why did they not attend to present their alternatives to the people involved in the process of accelerating youth development in South Africa?