Pretoria – Youth development will come under the spotlight when 300 delegates from 53 Commonwealth member states descend on Pretoria for the second Commonwealth Conference on Youth Work.
The international conference will be held from 8 – 10 March 2016 at the University of South Africa (Unisa).
Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Jeff Radebe on Monday said participants will include young people from various communities, youth workers, ministries responsible for youth affairs, academics, researchers, students from higher education and training institutions, officials from international youth development agencies, national youth councils and non-government organisations.
The Minister said South Africa was proud to host the second instalment of the Commonwealth Conference on Youth Work to further consolidate the preliminary work flowing from the inaugural conference.
The hosting of the conference will rotate among all other member states following this forthcoming conference.
The conference will be held under the theme “Engaging young people in nation building – the youth workers’ role”.
Minister Radebe said focus will be placed on youth work and professional recognition, education and training of youth workers, concepts and practice of youth work, creating collective strength through association for youth work professionals and certification and licensing of youth workers.
The youth constitutes the majority of South Africa and Africa’s population, which poses serious challenges with respect to youth development in areas such as skills, entrepreneurship and employment.
Minister Radebe said the Commonwealth conference will focus on the youth of the country, continent and the world, particularly the participating countries that are members of the Commonwealth.
“Without a doubt, youth development must be central to our respective countries’ national development agendas for the mere fact that they constitute by far the majority of our people, particularly in the African continent,” said the Minister.
The conference comes as South Africa has adopted the National Youth Policy 2020, which speaks to the role of youth work in unlocking the potential of the youth.
Deputy Minister in the Presidency Buti Manamela said the challenges facing South African youth are complex, cross-cutting and multidimensional.
“Well-trained professionals are keen to help young people navigate these problems to find success in their lives.
“The South African government recommits itself to facilitate professional recognition of youth work. Our National Youth Policy promotes the professionalization of youth work as a core component to strengthen our youth development efforts,” said Deputy Minister Manamela.
Unisa Vice Chancellor and Principal Professor Mandla Makhanya reiterated that government, Unisa and other member states of the Commonwealth have forged this collaboration to ensure that youth work gets professionalised.
He said Unisa will come in handy in capacitating youth to become professionals in their own areas of operation.
“… We will be establishing the Institute for Youth Development, which will serve as a research, education and training hub for youth workers in this country, the continent and beyond.
“We are going to ensure that we provide accredited qualifications in youth development,” he said.