Youth told to ‘leave no stone unturned’

YOLANDE DU PREEZ

The Hangberg sports and recreation centre was abuzz with youngsters attending the 790 Youth Recreation Club’s career expo on Saturday September 10.

The expo was in celebration of the club’s first birthday and addressed the issue of making access to higher education possible.

The club was founded by Hout Bay Civic Association secretary, Roscoe Jacobs, to provide a safe haven for the youth by means of various recreational activities such as sport and a DJ programme.

Lebohang Mafokosi, media liaison officer for the Department of Public Service and Administration, addressed the youth on behalf of the deputy minister, Ayanda Dlodlo who fell ill unexpectedly.

She said it is undeniable that the world would be robbed of some of the greatest minds if students from poor and working class families could not access higher education.

Ms Mafokosi challenged the youngsters to go out and exhaust all the opportunities that are available.

“Do so, leaving no stone unturned,” she said.

Ms Mafokosi said it was the government’s vision to create a South Africa in which all people have access to lifelong learning, as well as education and training. This she said would in turn; contribute towards improving the quality of life and building a peaceful, prosperous and democratic South Africa.

She said the current debate around access to higher education presents an opportunity for all stakeholders, inclusive of business, institutions of higher learning and government to work together in order to advance and build a nation.

“The right to access education is an issue that has for decades been contentious both nationally and internationally, and is one that requires commitment from all sectors to respond to,” she said.

She explained that the government’s commitment to higher education cannot be disputed as an enormous budget had been set aside for higher education.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) budget has increased from R9.8 billion in 2015 to R10 billion in the 2016/17 financial year and more than R700 million has been allocated for full bursaries in scarce and critical skills for the current year.

“This fiscal investment from the state has been cautiously utilised to support young people to access higher education.

“NSFAS has assisted over 400 000 students at universities and colleges across the country in 2016 alone.

“These numbers have more than doubled since 2009, when NSFAS provided loans and bursaries to 191 040 students, and they continue to increase with each passing year,” she said.

While not all young people will get an opportunity to access higher education through NSFAS, a number of other programmes exist within government for further training.

She explained that once a year, the South African National Defence Force, (SANDF) through its Military Skills Development Programme offer young people an opportunity to serve the nation while receiving further capacitating from the training.

The South African Air Force provides the opportunities to train as navigators, pilots, air space controllers and engineering.

Further, the South African Military Health Services provides opportunities for general training that covers animal health, chemical biological radiation defence, physical training instructors and patient administration. The study opportunities include pharmacy assistant, a doctoral degree, a four year nursing diploma and veterinary science.

According to Ms Mafokosi, the military has served as a launch pad for many successful careers of leaders in our communities.

She concluded by reminding youngsters that the onus was on them to go out and look for opportunities.

“Being complacent about a lack of funding for education while you do nothing to change your situation will not help in your advancement. We need our young people to fight for these opportunities that will ultimately improve our country.

“Today presents a set of its challenges for our young people, but it also presents opportunities like no past generation of youth has ever enjoyed in this country. We are now more than ever, reminded of the infinite opportunities available to our young people,” she said.

After the address, Ms Mafokosi said there are many young people who come from difficult backgrounds and career days such as this one is vital.

“It is so important that we have days like these where we can provide guidance to young people who have no other means to information about the most important decisions of their lives,” she said.

Mr Jacobs said he was very grateful to the Lions Club, Oceana Group and the Johnson Mayeki ANC branch for sponsoring the event.

He added that moving into the second year, the club aims to assist youth in school with homework and schooling but will need the assistance of local businesses.

He said young people who will be applying to university can be assisted by the Champan’s Peak Trust, which assists youth with contributions for registration fees. He urged them to contact Dr Lionel Louw for more information on lrlouw@mweb.co.za

Hout Bay High School pupil Tercia Daniels, 16, said she wanted to become a beauty therapist and the career expo inspired her to work harder as education is very important.

“Without education, nothing is possible,” she said.

Mickylah Galant, 16, also from Hout Bay High School, said she wanted to give back to her community by becoming a police officer.

“This day has taught me to work hard and believe in my dreams and to take education seriously,” she said.

Kaylim Jordaan, a Grade 9 pupil from Hout Bay High school, said he is interested in accounting or business and engineering and the career expo helped him to get information about his career choices and how he can get into college.

“I know that I have to work hard and this day has inspired me to do so,” he said.

The Western Cape government’s commitment to promote access to higher education extends through opportunities that are made available through state-owned enterprises (SOEs):

* Transnet: Full-time bursaries are awarded annually according to the employment needs of the company. These are comprehensive bursaries that cover tuition fees, accommodation and meals, book allowance and experiential learning.

The fields of study covered include metallurgy and industrial, electrical, electronic, and mechanical and civil engineering.

For more information, visit www.transnet.net/Career/Bursaries.aspx

* Eskom: Offers different types of bursary schemes to South African candidates who intend to further their skills and education at recognised higher education institutions. With steadily expanding industrial, commercial and mining activities, and an ever-present need for competent, skilled workers within the industry, Eskom’s bursary schemes assists in educating/training hopeful applicants.

What sets Eskom’s bursary scheme apart from others is the fact that bursaries are applicable not only to universities, but also technikons and Further Education and Training (FETs) colleges.

At university level, Eskom provides bursaries to study various engineering fields which include civil, electrical, electronic, computer, metallurgical, chemical and nuclear engineering. Eskom also funds accounting, supply chain management and information technology.

At FET colleges, Eskom funds studies for qualification as an artisan. The programmes include boiler makers, electricians, fitters and turners, millwrights, welders, plumbers, bricklayers, carpenters, power plant operators, mechanics, control and instrumentation.

For more information, visit http://web.eskom.co.za/student/introduction.html

* DENEL: Offers bursaries that cover the following tuition fees, prescribed textbooks, accommodation, computer allowance and a spending allowance. Bursaries are awarded to students within the engineering fields of aeronautical, computer, electronic, industrial, and mechanical and mechatronic engineering.

For more information, visit http://deneldynamics.gradx.net/