“This country is yours to inherit, so rise and take charge of your destiny.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday marked the 43rd anniversary of the 1976 Soweto Students Uprising, urging the youth to wage a new struggle for economic freedom, access to land and free education.
“It is you who are the voice of our national conscience as we build a South Africa free of racism, of sexism, of xenophobia and other forms of discrimination,” Ramaphosa said in Polokwane, Limpopo.
“It is you, the youth of this country, who remind us that our liberation is not complete as long as millions of our people live in poverty, are jobless and remain on the margins of society.”
At last year’s Presidential Jobs Summit, Ramaphosa said the government agreed on a number of initiatives to accelerate the development of young people to take advantage of jobs in the tech sector, installation, maintenance, and repair jobs.
“But we don’t just need software engineers,” said Ramaphosa. “We also need car mechanics, electricians, plumbers, hydroponics specialists, tour guides and aquaculture farmers. These are all productive and growing areas of the economy into which our young people can be absorbed. Their stories are a harsh reminder that the social and economic marginalization of our youth is a stain on our country’s conscience.”
Ramaphosa also lauded the efforts of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) for continuing to provide support to young entrepreneurs and youth-led businesses across the country.
“The National Youth Development Agency continues to provide interventions to support young entrepreneurs and has over the past five years disbursed development finance to more than 6,000 start-up youth entrepreneurs and helped create more than 18,000 new jobs.”
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“In its efforts to break barriers for young people in the job market, the NYDA has trained almost 400,000 young people on job preparedness and life skills. Around 25,000 of these young people have now been placed in permanent jobs,” he said.
Ramaphosa also announced that the government will set aside over R900 million to settle the historical debts of continuing NSFAS-funded students. “It is for this reason that the budget of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme has grown exponentially from R70 million in 1994 to nearly R15 billion in 2018. We are phasing in free tertiary education for children from poor and working-class backgrounds,” he said.
Ramaphosa toured the National Youth Day exhibition center at the Peter Mokaba Cricket Club earlier where he interacted with young entrepreneurs from Limpopo, Gauteng, and Mpumalanga.
He was accompanied by Limpopo premier Stanley Mathabatha, Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and the Chairperson of the NYDA Sifiso Mtsweni.