Chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency
Senior government officials
Our special guests - Learners
Ladies and gentlemen
It is my pleasure to join you today as you debate the capability of our country to realise the aspirations that have been set out in the National Development Plan (NDP). This debate is very important for our country and will help us all to create a prosperous South Africa as envisaged in the NDP. It is pleasing to see young people participate in conversations that are central to the development of our country.
As young people, the future belongs to you. It is important that all young people in our country start to participate in efforts to create a society that is united on a common vision, work together to build an economy that is able to create decent employment and eliminate poverty.
Your society cannot be the same as ours. It has to continuously develop and rise above our current challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. As future leaders of our society, you have an important role to play in building a country in which everyone can unleash their potential.
We are fortunate that the great minds of our country from all sectors came together, as directed by President Jacob Zuma, to craft the NDP. The NDP is a product of robust engagement and was positively received and adopted by our democratic parliament and multi-sectoral constituency in 2012. It is our country’s overarching vision leading to 2030. The NDP is anchored on our ability as South Africans to work together and engage on our country’s development; expand the economy and make its growth inclusive; build key capabilities - human, physical and institutional; build a capable and developmental state and foster strong leadership throughout society.
The NDP has thirteen different chapters that addresses the most pressing challenges facing South Africa and provides solutions in the form of proposals and actions. The plan outlines sector specific goals and a vision for South Africa to be achieved by 2030. At the heart of the NDP is the need to create decent work, acceleration of the shared and inclusive economic growth, transforming the structure of production and ownership and enabling the talents and productive potential of our people to flourish.
Our occasion today falls squarely within the ambit of the NDP. The NDP is futuristic in its approach, and singles out our youthful population as the major catalysts in boosting economic growth. The NDP puts youth empowerment at the epicentre of development strategies. The youth are therefore at the core of South Africa’s development agenda.
Our economic indicators show that the youth remains the hardest hit by the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. These are some of the challenges that we must collectively address with the urgency that they deserve. Youth unemployment breeds social ills such as drug abuse, rampant crime and violence.
We should all be concerned when we see more of our learners on the streets during the school hours, endangering their future through substance abuse and crime. We should all urge our learners to desist from deviant behaviour that will detract you from playing a meaningful role in the development of our country.
We call upon all sectors of society, parents, teachers, churches and business people to play a part in channelling the learners on the right path towards the pursuance of education. As government, we recognise the centrality of young people in our developmental agenda. Hence in our planning and prioritisation, efforts are being made to equip young people with the skills and knowledge that will be required in future. In line with the NDP, we have deliberately placed the quality of education as the top priority in the Media Term Strategic Framework. The NDP states that if we are to overcome our challenges it is essential that everyone has access to education at a high standard, regardless of who they are and where they live. The attainment of NDP Vision 2030 requires a special focus on quality early childhood development, basic education, and higher education and training.
Our commitment to education is inspired by the efforts of our great leaders such as Oliver Reginald Tambo and Nelson Mandela. These leaders championed the value of education and believe that our country can overcome its challenges if all our children have access to learning institutions. As former President Nelson Mandela has said, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. In this spirit, we would like to encourage more of you learners to take up subjects such mathematics and science and play a role in developing future technologies. Technology is one of the key drivers of the country’s economy and is forever changing. The consequence of new technological inventions is that you will need a higher degree of knowledge and skill to compete for future jobs.
Thus far, the efforts of young people at school are encouraging. More of the learners are passing their grades with higher percentage and endeavours to march through until they complete their matric. Our matric pass rate is forever rising and we are seeing more of the provinces that are predominantly rural challenging to leading the charts.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best as you prepare for your exams. You carry the greatest responsibility to keep our overall pass rate high and increase the number of university graduate.
We want you to take over from the contingent of young NDP ambassadors whom I will announce on the 28th of September 2017. Our department is in the process of establishing a partnership with young innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs and career trailblazers for them to serve as NDP ambassadors. The NDP ambassadors are young people who have a potential to stimulate economic growth, reduce the level of unemployment, and contribute in alleviating poverty. These are young people who have committed to play a part in shaping the destiny of their country by involving themselves in positive innovative programmes.
Today’s debate on the NDP should propel you too to remain aware of developments in our country and play an active role in shaping the future. Our intention, together with the Department of Basic Education, is to host the NDP learner debate competition on an annual basis. It is in the interest of our country’s future that more of our young people remain aware of priorities that underpin our Vision 2030.
Parallel to the NDP learner debate competition, we are calling upon all our grade 12 learners to participate in the NDP Essay competition. As part of the NDP essay competition we would like to urge young people to apply their mind in defining the ideal South Africa that we can expect in 2030. The application forms for participation in this competition will be accessible in our website starting from the 1st of October 2017 and learners will have the opportunity to submit their essays until 31 December 2017. In February 2018 when we announce the result of the adjudication process, we intend to partner with the media fraternity to ensure that 20 of the best essay are published and begin to initiate a dialogue countrywide.
In addition, we are exploring the possibility of engage learners as they enter the school system on the NDP as part of encouraging them to showcase their awareness through presentation of important things to know about our country and what it means to be a leader. Hence today I will also be launching a competition for grade 1 learners in which they are expected to create a visual impression of what they would do as the leaders of the country.
All these three opportunities provide an opportunity for all of us to partner in building the future of our children through education. We have rich collective of future great minds amongst us and collective we need to ensure that they continue to play a meaningful role in society. We urge all sectors of the society to support initiatives such as the NDP learner competitions and ensure that we achieve the aspirations contained in the NDP. Let us use the 5th anniversary of the NDP to support the education of our children, and secure the future of our own country. The NDP belong to all of us, it is our future - let’s make it work!
In this regard, I would like to particularly extend our gratitude to Shoprite for the sponsorship of some of the prizes for the participating learners. We invite the private institutions to join us in next year’s competitions and grow the initiative to greater heights.
I would also like to acknowledge the sterling role of the teachers amongst us, who over and above their normal teaching responsibility, took time to help the participating learners to better prepare for the NDP learner debate competition. Teachers are indeed creators and bear the biggest responsibility to nurture our future leaders.
To the participating teams, we appreciate your insights on the potential of our country to implement the NDP. I am informed that during the elimination process you displayed remarkable conduct and exchanged cogent arguments. I want you to know that even if your team will not compete during the final rounds today, your participation is important in the bigger project of building our country. It is important that you continue to participate in nation building projects and confidently advance your views without hesitation.
Congratulation to the teams that made it to the finals. I am sure we are all looking forward to be enthralled by the exchange of bright ideas that will shape our country’s future. As they say, may the best team win.
Once again, let me take this opportunity to wish the learner all the best in your examinations and a safe journey as you travel back to your respective homes and schools.
I Thank You!
Issued by Government Communications (GCIS) on behalf of the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation