• Leo Makgamathe
programme manager for civil society, Brand South Africa
+27 11 483 0122.
The blueprint for the future depends on its youth: this message came through loud and clear when Brand South Africa sat down with about 150 teens in Cape Town.
Leo Makgamathe, the agency’s programme manager for civil society, said that if young South Africans, who “will be knocking on the door of executive positions in 17 years’ time”, sat “folding their arms” instead of taking ownership now, the National Development Plan (NDP) risked not being implemented by its target date of 2030, if at all.
He was speaking to recipients of The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment at a Play Your Part–NDP outreach meeting at Herschel Girls’ School on Saturday, 7 September.
The President’s Award, which celebrates 30 years of youth development in South Africa this year, is a voluntary programme that seeks to provide a holistic framework for purposeful self-development of young people between the ages of 14 and 24. There are more than 15 000 youth taking part in the award, drawn from schools, community youth groups, residential youth facilities and correctional centres.
“Most of the participants are between the ages of 16 and 18, which means many of them will be in their early 30s when the NDP is implemented in 2030 – they will be in the prime of their careers then. That’s exactly why they need to start owning this plan,” Makgamathe said. Giving the opening address, he congratulated the participants for their excellent work and encouraged them to continue on this path of active citizenry.
Dr Laurine Platzky, the deputy director-general of governance and integration in the office of the Western Cape premier, added her voice to the call to action in her keynote address. She outlined the NDP, explaining that it was the long-term blueprint for a stronger, more competitive South Africa. The plan belonged to individual South Africans, and depended on action from them.
The President’s Award participants shared inspiring personal accounts of best practice models of community service. They outlined various initiatives they had created or for which they had volunteered under the award’s community service component. Projects described included painting a dilapidated school, taking care of youngsters whose parents had failed to collect them after they had completed treatment at a tuberculosis hospital, and cooking and serving porridge to underprivileged children before school.
Janine Hanson, the operations director of The President’s Award, referred to these as the small acts of kindness that made up a caring society. She set the stage alight, energetically congratulating participants for working towards making South Africa known as a country where people cared about each other.
The Cape Town event followed a similar dialogue and action workshop in the Eastern Cape a week earlier. A third workshop, in Gauteng a week later, is the final in the series. The meetings are aimed at highlighting the objectives of the NDP and the role young people can play.
Makgamathe said many young people were already involved in community initiatives, but they seldom realised that the work they were doing was contributing towards a broader realisation of the NDP. The workshops sought to reaffirm the work they were doing as well as to elevate it on a national scale. “Take what they are doing in Western Cape, add what they are doing in East London and in Gauteng … we have a nice tapestry of community initiatives which are led by young people.”
He hoped that by showcasing such young leaders other young people would be inspired to start playing their part today, not 20 years down the line. For its part, Brand SA promotes active citizenship through its Play Your Part campaign.
The President’s Award
The President’s Award is a voluntary challenge open to youth aged 14 to 25. It is about challenging oneself and being true to oneself. It encourages:
• Personal discovery and growth;
• Independent responsibility;
• Responsibility; and,
• Service to the community.
It is an international award, recognised globally that helps participants to develop many life skills, team skills, friendships and a connection to a broader society. There are three award levels – bronze, silver and gold – and four sections:
• Service – to learn how to give a useful service to others;
• Physical activity – to encourage participation in physical recreation and improvement of performance;
• Skills – to encourage the development of personal interests and practical skills; and,
• Adventurous Journey – to encourage a spirit of adventure and discovery while undertaking a journey in a group.