The youth shall inherit the earth


Deputy Minister in the Presidency has his finger on pulse

Mr Buti Manamela, Deputy Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning Monitoring and Evaluation, youth development, as well as the Administration of the Presidency, is a man with a mission to carry out his mandate in his department.

However, his overriding concern is for the
youth, as Leadership discovered during a wide-ranging interview.

“My responsibility relates to the entire portfolio of the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and the one area in which I have been plugging the most is youth development, as I think young people are the most disaffected,” says Manamela. “Firstly, young people are the majority in our country. Secondly, all the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality predominantly affect young people. That is why part of our problem is to bring alive the youth policy, which
speaks to the interventions that we need to make in order to have an impact on changing the
quality of lives of young people. So that’s basically
what drives our youth development strategy.”

Manamela says the stand-out objective of Youth Month and the 40-year celebrations of Youth Day on June 16 is to illustrate that the role that young people played in 1976 was not only about liberating education and bringing down a system of apartheid and ensuring a democratic government was in place – but also ensuring that the youth contribute to a new South Africa.

“That’s a project that’s going to take a long time, considering how far we have come since then. Forty years means we must encourage engagement—we must encourage young people to speak out. In fact, the more they speak the more they engage, and the more they speak out and confront government, the less they will burn down universities and schools. Then they will feel they are part of the transformation process.”

Youth today still have the same struggles as the youth of 1976, but Manamela suggests that the youth today are perhaps doing things differently, but they are continuing with the struggles that the youth in 1976 were pursuing.

“Once you try and shut down the youth, essentially it will be self-defeatist and that’s why part of the celebration of June 16 is to say ‘what does this day and this month mean for the current generation? What is our mission as the current generation?’,” says Manamela.

“As this year is the 40th anniversary of the June 16 uprisings, we will be commemorating the role that young people have played, from June 1976 and onwards over the years. People say young people came out for ‘down with Afrikaans’ and all that—but it is not ‘the’ issue, you know. It had to do with broader transformation of education, it had to do with the quality of that education, the use of language to exclude young people from education and most of those are pertinent challenges to the current generation of youth as well,” he adds.

Forty years later, Manamela believes there has been much progress made—the Youth Policy speaks about the transformation of the education system so that it is able to address all young people in an equitable fashion. “There has been progress in a lot of communities and particularly black communities, in terms of education. You’ve got infrastructure in terms of classrooms, you’ve got teachers, in terms of teacher-to-pupil ratios, and millions of youth who go to schools. A large number are part of the school feeding scheme and 65 percent of all school-going children are going to no-fee schools, wherein they do not have to pay school fees,” says Manamela.

However, Manamela’s concerns are that there are still challenges regarding the quality of education, because there are still persistent problems, particularly in rural areas, which is why many young people are migrating to urban areas. Reports show that young people are migrating—especially to Gauteng and the Western Cape—because of access to quality education in urban areas.

“The central theme for the 40th Anniversary of June 16 is that we’ve made progress in transforming the quality of life, and in this case the quality of education, but a lot more still needs to be done and we need to address all these challenges. We should not bask in the glory of some of the successes we have achieved over the last twenty years and we should not think that it is enough. Look at universities, for example—we have seen that with the ‘Fees must fall’ campaign by students, which is essentially young people saying, ‘look, 1976 and 2016 ... what’s the difference?’,” says Manamela.

He says there is a tenfold increase in the number of young people attending universities since 1994. “Currently there are close to 700 000 young people going to TVET colleges and close to one million young people going to universities —that is a tenfold increase from 1994, when only 300 000 young people went to university. It is a huge number and it means the system cannot cope, it means the system needs to expand, it means we need to generate resources in order to cover the costs of all these areas.”

The main concern regarding young people in South Africa today is about jobs, explains Manamela, adding that the second key issue is access to education and the third, very important issue, is for young people to form their own businesses and become entrepreneurs.

“We want to say to young people ‘let’s have a conversation as to how we can have an economy that creates more jobs, addresses all the related skills issues.’ It is about promoting that engagement and ensuring that all young people contribute to a better future in their own country.”

Manamela explains that this is where the role of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) is important in addressing the concerns of the youth.

“The NYDA’s vision going forward is the need for more resources. Over the last three years the new NYDA board has significantly transformed the institution so that it is able to address the needs, interests and aspirations of the young. The NYDA has, for the first time, received a clean audit and has also for the first time supported more than one thousand youth businesses, which has led to close on 11 000 direct jobs being created.”

He comments that the DPME is lobbying hard for government to increase the NYDA budget so that it can maximise its impact, but, more importantly, for the NYDA to help the whole of government to put at their centre issues that affect young people.

“We have structured government’s approach to youth development in such a way that we have the National Youth Policy 2020, so all government departments treat that as part of their annual performance plan. Then we get the reports on a quarterly basis as to what each and every government department is doing in implementing the NYP2020. It could be in the form of economic transformation, it could be in relation to education, health and lifestyle etc.”

In contextualising the importance of youth in annual performance plans, Manamela gives examples of the number of youth dying every year in road fatalities, the extent of drug abuse in schools, alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancies and HIV/Aids. “The number of pregnancies is rising amongst teenage girls, the number of children entering schools is rising, but only about 40 percent are completing their studies and less than seven percent will actually pursue further education—these are all worrying factors that each government department has to look at.

“The role of the DPME is to evaluate all of government’s outcomes around youth, put them together and come back and point out areas that need attention or improvement. It also looks at whether funding and human resources are needed—all the information is put together in an annual report and presented to the Presidency, which then forms the basis of the Annual Status of Youth Report.”

National Youth Service to develop abilities of youth through service and learning

Manamela explains that the National Youth Service (NYS) aims to provide long-term and effective ways of reconstructing South African society by developing the abilities of young people through service and learning by instilling a culture of service, by supporting youth to participate constructively in nation-building; promoting social cohesion; promoting civil awareness, patriotism and national reconstruction amongst young people; helping young people to transition to adulthood through the development of knowledge, skills development and work experience and help them to gain access to economic and further learning opportunities.

“The NYS model has three elements: service, learning and individual development, and exit opportunities,” adds Manamela. “Each one of these elements needs to be seen as part of an integrated whole—building onto and feeding into the other. The model is based on the idea that young people require interventions that address the personal, social and economic aspects of their lives in a holistic manner.”

Frontline Service Delivery Monitoring programme holds public service facilities accountable

Since its inception in 2011, the Frontline Service Delivery Monitoring (FSDM) programme, in collaboration with the Offices of the Premier, has been monitoring public services facilities through both unannounced visits and monitoring meetings, with the aim of catalysing service delivery improvements and highlighting the importance of monitoring to sector departments.

The FSDM essentially ensures that public institutions (schools, clinics, hospitals, police stations, social development and social grant pay points) are all performing to the best of their ability to meet the demands of their communities. “So we may rock up at a police station and see that the police men or women are on duty and check whether they have their proper uniforms on and if they are wearing their name tags and if they are able to do their jobs adequately. It also looks at whether the facilities are adequate to do their jobs—can people walk in and make statements?” asks Manamela.

“We look at all these issues like long queues —is this being addressed? Are there suggestion boxes and are people’s complaints or suggestions being listened to? We look at all these issues during unannounced visits. In some instances, we will go to the institution, such as a clinic, and you find that the head nurse has gone for a two-hour lunch—as I found out recently, where there were long queues, medicine was not stored properly, the clinic was messy and the toilets dirty.”

Manamela says that when the FSDM finds situations like the one at the clinic mentioned above, then a report is made and, in this case, taken to the Department of Health, with the outcomes and actions that the FSDM thinks should be taken to resolve the issues.

With regards to the NYDA, the FSDM monitors and assesses progress and makes an evaluation of all the outcomes, as education is key to both the National Development Plan and the National Youth Policy 2020. Manamela explains that the FSDM is the ‘user-facing’ part of delivering public services, as viewed by the public.

“This definition can cover all interactions between citizens, residents and government that happen during the course of service delivery. There are a variety of policies, legislation, frameworks and standards that influences the interface between the users of public services and government during service delivery. The Department of Public Service and Administration, for instance, requires that all government departments develop service charters that inform the users of what they can expect from government departments. The user’s journey through the frontline service delivery is a complex one, but best thought of as a process that culminates with receipt of a public service that improves their social or economic wellbeing,” says Manamela.

For the 2016/2017 year, the FSDM is looking at the implementation of facilities ranging from Home Affairs offices, health facilities, schools, police stations, South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) offices, drivers licencing and testing stations, courts, municipal customer care centres and facilities that provide services in terms of youth development. These facilities, says Manamela, are specifically targeted because of the importance of the services they provide to the public and the need for all users to receive a quality service when they use these facilities.

“Particular attention is paid to monitoring the key performance areas, which are education and the availability of textbooks, workbooks and stationery, cleanliness and safety of schools, teacher attendance, as well as the youth and the availability of capacity development programmes and employment creation initiatives within sectors in response to the implementation and main-streaming of the NYP2020.”

Monitoring service delivery is not all ‘doom and gloom’

Manamela points out that not all the outcomes of the FSDM are ‘doom and gloom. “There are areas of excellence. For instance, you go to a school and speak to the learners and all the teachers are there, they have received all their necessary textbooks on time and the toilets are working. So we really have been getting best results from our monitoring and evaluation.

“When we come across excellence, say in a rural school, we encourage them to share best practices and best experiences. It is always impressive when you go on an unannounced visit to, say, a clinic, and three or four months later after you have given a base-line report you go back and see the improvements that have been made. You see the high staff morale, you see the community giving you positive feedback, because they can also feel and see the changes that are happening.”

Manamela says that his department encourages the public if they experience any challenges with public service institutions to write to the DPME with their complaints if they feel that standards and service delivery are not being adequately met. “The intention of monitoring and evaluating public service institutions is to ensure that those people working there are doing their jobs properly, even if there is no-one watching (or monitoring) them. That is why our department is expanding, because we have officials monitoring and verifying all sectors, so that they are all working and that you don’t just sit in an office with a report that says ‘people are coming to school,’ for instance, and just sign off. You need people to go physically to check that indeed there is a school in the first place.”

Young people cannot claim their rights if they don’t take responsibility

Manamela comments on what he sees as the key factors involving the youth in the upcoming local government elections.

“There will be three to four million new voters who have never voted before, who have registered for the forthcoming local government elections. Firstly, we need to say to young people, ‘you need to go all out and vote on 3 August, irrespective of who you want to vote for.’ It is the first step in the exercise of democracy. Secondly, they should avail themselves for election as leaders.”

Manamela feels it is important for young people to put their names forward as leaders, as South Africa is a young nation and involvement by young people is critical.

“Young people cannot claim their rights are disrespected if they do not take responsibility for ensuring that their dreams are realised. We have seen young people going out protesting. That’s our democratic right, but we also have a responsibility to ensure that we protect public property. Let’s not target our anger towards inanimate objects—a school cannot talk back, but once you burn a school you destroy the future of thousands of young people,” says Manamela.

“In 27 April 1994, we all voted,” said former President Nelson Mandela, “But we will not change South Africa only by voting. We will change South Africa by working. We will change South Africa by getting involved in its transformation. We will also change South Africa by realising that we still have our own differences and persistent issues, such as economic transformation.”

These are issues, says Manamela, that still talk to many young people in the current generation.

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