The chilly morning of Saturday 11 June 2016 could not prevent thousands of youth from all over Upington and other parts of the Northern Cape province from attending the provincial Youth Summit and the Career Expo hosted by the Deputy President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, at the Mxolisi Dicky Jacobs stadium in Upington. This was the fifth province that the Deputy President visited to host the expo.
Mr Ramaphosa was accompanied by the Premier of the Northern Cape province Sylvia Lucas, the Minister of Energy Tina Joematt-Pettersson, the Minister of Women Susan Shabangu, the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele, the Deputy Minister in the Presidency Buti Manamela and the Deputy Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.
The Youth Expo is a platform where national, provincial and local government, together with private sector partners, showcase opportunities available to young people in education, training and entrepreneurship.
Private-sector partners at the expo included, amongst others, Microsoft SA, Kelloggs SA, Coca Cola SA, Vodacom SA, MTN, De Beers, SENTECH, SAB Miller and the Information Technology Association (ITA), whilst state-owned companies and different government departments also showcased their services and opportunities to the youth that were in attendance.
The expo took place with the theme Youth moving South Africa forward which is the theme for Youth Month 2016, and serves as a call for young people to determine their destiny and seize the opportunities provided by government and the private sector. Furthermore, it is a call for young people to contribute towards building a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.
Some of the learners who attended, where given an opportunity to interact with the leadership and asked questions to the Deputy President and his entourage. From this interaction and in response to some of the matters raised by the learners, the Minister of Energy pledged R1-million each to Upington College’s Student Representative Council (SRC) and another R1-million towards the Northern Cape Premier Education Trust Fund.
Two learners from Paballelo High School received tablets from the Deputy Minister of Communications.
The government leaders also promised to attend to other matters raised by the youth, including dysfunctional libraries, safety at schools, gangsterism and lack of technological support in some of the schools.
Addressing the youth, Mr Ramaphosa said that government took the issues raised by the youth seriously and had thus embarked on this national expo to all the provinces since late last year.
He said that the youth of today must grab all opportunities presented by government. Mr Ramaphosa said that because the current government takes education seriously, they have increased the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) allocation to R9.5-billion rand to assist poorer students.
Mr Ramaphosa said “We will continue to mobilise the private sector, the donor community and even foreign governments that are friendly towards us, to get them to support our efforts to rid our country of the legacy of apartheid”. He urged the youth to respect their bodies and to not subject these to drugs and alcohol.
Mr Ramaphosa was also handed the declarations from the Provincial Youth Summit hosted by the provincial government in Upington from 09 to 10 June 2016. He committed that all issues raised in the declaration will be attended to and a proper response will be forwarded to the provincial government and all youth structures.
The youth development and expo was welcomed by pupils, teachers and parents who attended it, with most saying that the youth must now know that there are a whole range of opportunities for the youth of today and that these are the advances that the youth of 1976 will be proud of and that there are no excuses for failure in this democratic dispensation.