Agriculture, land reform, and rural development minister Thoko Didiza has implored young people in the Free State to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the National Rural Youth Services Corps (NARYSEC) programme.
Didiza also called on the youth to become change agents and to contribute meaningfully to the development of their communities.
She made the call during a NARYSEC intake ceremony held on Monday in Thaba Nchu.
The programme, which is implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development, seeks to contribute towards the country’s broader skills development initiatives for the youth.
Addressing more than 1000 participants, Didiza warned that South Africa will never change if young people just wait for the government to provide for them.
“Let us go to the farm and start farming. Once you are done with the programme, we want to see you being able to farm. This initiative is meant to kick-start your life so that you can change for the better.
“Yours is to give back to the community, especially your family. You are carrying a lot of responsibilities and if you fail you will have failed the country. As pioneers, you have a lot of responsibilities to contribute toward South Africa’s economy,” Didiza said.
She urged participants to become change agents who contribute towards the vision of building vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities.
The ministers added she was hopeful that most of the participants will use their skills to deveop economic opportunities created by the District Development Model.
Didiza was accompanied by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and Free State MEC for finance, who was standing in for Premier Sisi Ntombela.
The NARYSEC programme is a 24-month skills development initiative targeting unemployed rural youth between the ages of 18 and 25, who are in possession of Grade 12, as part of the rural economy transformation strategy.
Since the trailblazing programme’s commencement in 2010, NARYSEC has recruited thousands of youths from all the country’s provinces. It develops the skills of targeted participants in partnership with other public and private sector institutions in line with the Rural Economic Transformation Strategy.
Dlamini-Zuma also encouraged the youth and women to go into business, especially farming.
“There is a need for districts to have economic development. If there is no economic development, we will never deal with poverty in our communities,” she said, urging young people to grab such opportunities with both hands.
Dlamini-Zuma said the government was trying out a new District Development Model to address corruption, poverty, economic growth, unemployment, spatial planning, and skills development. The model would be piloted at district, local and metropolitan levels.
“One of the government’s main objectives is to identify local development opportunities and ensure economic activity in every district. Unemployment will not abate if we do not ensure that there are opportunities for employment outside the government in all the districts … this will also assist us in addressing poverty,” she indicated.
After recruitment, participants are dispatched to the NARYSEC College in Thaba Nchu where they are taken through an induction, orientation and life skills training phase.
This is followed by a youth leadership development programme, which is administered by the South African National Defence Force at the 3SAI military base in Kimberley and at the SA Naval base in Saldanha, Western Cape.
The youth are then enrolled in TVET and other training colleges to obtain qualifications in their chosen career fields, which are paid for by Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development.
Upon completion, participants then venture into various career paths while others are absorbed into government departments, municipalities, and the private sector. Some establish their own businesses.