NYDA sets aside millions to help youngsters

By: More Matshediso

Pretoria: Improving education in South Africa has always been on the list of priorities of government over the years. It’s also amongst the long-term goals that government has outlined in its Vision 2030.

The National Development Plan (NDP) states that South Africa needs an education system of high quality with global competitive literacy and numeracy and higher education and training that enables citizens to fulfil their potential.

The NDP also says in order improve the education system, there is a need to expand the higher education sector so it can contribute to rising income, higher productivity and the shift to a more knowledge-intensive economy. It also states a need for a wider system of innovation that links universities, science councils and other research and development role players with priority areas of the economy.

To address these education demands, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) this year launches its Second Chance Matric Rewrite Programme that aims to reintegrate young people who failed grade 12 back into the education system.

NYDA Chairperson Yershen Pillay spoke to SAnews about the programme, which is aligned with the agency’s new focus on education and skills development.

“We have taken an approach as the NYDA that every matric pupil deserves a second chance, for whatever reasons, especially those in rural areas,” he said.

Pillay holds the view that the majority of matriculants who did not pass the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations may actually have potential to further their studies and become future academics.

“The aim of the programme is to afford those who have failed the NSC examinations a second chance to rewrite and obtain that valuable qualification.

“We know for a fact that about 128 000 or more full-time candidates failed the NSC exams in 2014, and we need to reintegrate as many as possible back into the education system,” said Pillay.

The NYDA is targeting 4 325 young people in the nine provinces with a budget of R10 million injected in the programme. The closing date for registrations for this programme was 20 February.

The number of candidates targeted is based on affordability and the agency has proposed to get a boost from government for the years ahead.

“We are partnering with Education Training Development Practitioner Sector Education Training Authority (ETDP SETA) to roll out this programme. As part of the partnership, the NYDA contributed R7 million and ETDP SETA contributed R3 million this year. With that R10 million available, we are able to reach only the targeted number in all nine provinces,” Pillay said.

The programme is structured in a way that best suits every province and there are tuition centres based in each province. In provinces that have performed poorly, such as in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo, there are five centres.

Holistic support

The centres are designed for the second chance matric rewrite programme only and to accommodate the targeted number that will benefit from the holistic package of support to write at these centres.

“It is a holistic package of support with six aspects to it, which includes tuition of 52 hours of subject, study guide, career guidance, previous examinations question papers, academic support and three assessments per subject.

“Each learner will receive this package of support and will be assisted to register with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) before they sit for final examinations in November this year,” Pillay said.

He encouraged young people to take matric seriously as it is an important qualification to have.

“It doesn’t guarantee you success but it is a passport to success. You need to ensure that you get that valuable certificate and programmes of this nature, which are offered free by the NYDA, are opportunities that young people need to seize.”

Pillay envisages that the programme will be sustainable, and said the NYDA has tabled a proposal to Cabinet – through the Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Buti Manamela – because it needs to be scaled up as a government programme.

He said this is necessitated by the fact that the NYDA does not have enough resources to escalate the number from 4 235 to 128 000 youth who need this kind of support.

“If government is able to scale up this project and run with it, with all government departments contributing towards its success, then we will actually have the ability to meet the demand that is out there… We will be able to have a significant impact made by this programme, and that is our long-term vision,” said Pillay.

Focus on skills development

In May 2013, the NYDA shifted the core business away from Enterprise Finance and Skills Development towards Education and Skills Development.

The strategic change towards Education and Skills Development was informed by numerous studies indicating that most young people in the country actually derive their income from salaries and remittances.

According to the NYDA, only 4.6% of young people between the ages of 15 – 24 derive their income from business-related activities. The studies further indicate that the level of education and the quality of that education is directly proportional to employability.

It is hoped that educational challenges facing young people in the country will decrease through this programme, which speaks to what government envisioned in the NDP.

The NDP is aligned with the DBE Action Plan and Vision for Schooling in 2015 in both its diagnosis and proposed solutions.

It proposes that specific focus over the next 18 years should be on improving literacy, numeracy and science outcomes; increasing the number of learners eligible to study maths and science-based degrees at university; improving performance in internationally comparative studies and retaining more learners.

According to the NPD, South Africa loses half of every group that enters the school system by the end of the 12-year schooling period, wasting significant human potential and harming the life chances of many young people.

The NDP states that South Africa should aim for a comparable completion rate of between 80% – 90% against developed countries, including learners in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

“Compulsory education should be extended to successful completion of Grade 12 in basic education or the equivalent level in the post-school sector. TVET colleges should provide a meaningful vocational education alternative to secondary schooling.

“There needs to be alternative post-secondary education of good quality for learners who cannot, or choose not to, go to university,” says the NDP.

With regard to high education, the NDP says the performance of existing institutions ranges from world-class to mediocre, and that continuous quality improvement is needed as the system expands at a moderate pace.

“A major challenge is that poor school education increases the cost of producing graduates and a relatively small number of black students graduate from universities. Increasing participation and graduation rates, with the option of a four-year university degree, combined with bridging courses and more support for universities to help black students from disadvantaged backgrounds, is like to yield higher returns,” it says.

SOURCE: South African Official News