9 May 2011
South Africa has officially launched its National Rural Youth Service Corps, a programme aimed at creating jobs while helping to prepare the country’s youngsters to become better people and “foot-soldiers” for their respective communities.
Designed to complement the government’s job creation model, the project is aimed mainly at creating employment, but also at uplifting rural areas with services and infrastructure.
Speaking at the official launch of the programme in Dysselsdorp in the Western Cape on Friday, President Jacob Zuma said the aim was to ensure that rural youngsters learnt to “fish for themselves” by acquiring skills that would enable them to be absorbed into the mainstream of the economy.
The programme was first introduced by the Department of Rural Development last year, when it targeted at around 10 000 youths from poor rural areas.
Zuma said the programme had nothing to do with the upcoming local government elections, saying the Dysselsdorp municipality was a Comprehensive Rural Development Programme site because of its high rate of unemployment and poverty.
“It is no coincidence that the youth in rural areas have been invited to participate in building the foundation for sustainable socio-economic development in rural areas,” Zuma said.
“Socio-economic development in rural communities – with the youth being at the centre of such developments – underpins the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s strategy to develop rural areas.”
The programme targets youngsters aged between 18 and 35 years who hold Grade 10 (or old Standard 8) school reports, who will be trained in technical, artisan and social-work skills over two years.
Skills to be learnt will be dictated by the needs of their respective rural areas, which will be determined through household and community profiles.
Zuma said 500 participants recently graduated from a seven-week non-military training course at the De Brug Military Base in Bloemfontein, as part of the programme, where they where taught self-discipline, courage, leadership and patriotism.
In December last year, another 600 participants underwent a 10-day skills development programme at Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges in the Western Cape, where they were taught subjects such as decision-making, citizenship and life-skills orientation.
“All these programmes are designed to prepare the youth to become better persons and foot soldiers for their respective communities,” Zuma said.