Youth Day – Government is ‘unconferencing’ with young people for the first time ever

Albert Fritz MPP

Western Cape Minister of Social Development

June 16 has traditionally been associated with dialogues, discussions, conferences, or engagements with young people, where government gets young people together in a venue and talks to them about its plans to make life better for the leaders of tomorrow.

This year, I am getting thousands of young people together at the Bellville Velodrome, and we will be Unconferencing. With the assistance of over 100 facilitators, we will be giving the youth of the Western Cape, an opportunity to not only express themselves on the issues that impact on their lives, but we as government will be listening to them, so that what comes out of their mouths, can be used to direct and give effect to the youth strategy we are rolling out in the Western Cape.

For too long, governments have been making plans for the youth, developing programmes, for them, even making some of the services free. Yet many young people are not accessing government programmes, some have no knowledge of it while others may be downright opposed to it. So in order to arrest this practise, I want to know from young people:

  • whether they know about the opportunities this government extends to them,
  • how they are accessing it,
  • why they may not be accessing it
  • what would make them respond favourably
  • what hinders their access, etc.

In a nutshell, I want to make sure that what we are rolling out for young people to access, really is in line with their needs and interests.

I have recently seen youth spaces/zones in other parts of the world, where literally thousands of young people walk through the doors on a daily basis, to access services, share information, engage with their peers, seek guidance, create dialogue, etc.  Whilst I am under no illusion about the differences between opportunities in South Africa, vs first world countries, I do believe that young people speak a universal language in terms of their need to be heard.

In short, we want to ensure that what government is making available, is in line with want young people need in order to give effect to our narrative, that ‘by age 25 all young people of the province should be economically self –sufficient and independent, healthy, with positive family, personal and social relationships, and should be active in their community’.

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