The Young Patriots Programme: Creating youth employment through volunteerism

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By Jessie Taylor

South Africa has one of the world’s highest unemployment rates, with many youths struggling to access the jobs market. But one South African government agency is changing this by creating volunteering opportunities for young people.

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) was established to address challenges faced by South Africa’s youth. The NYDA focuses on economic development through youth entrepreneurship, decent employment through jobs programmes, social cohesion and pathways for economic emancipation through the National Youth Service, and the monitoring and evaluation of the integrated youth development strategy.


Addressing youth challenges

The NYDA has developed an Integrated Youth Development Strategy that coordinates programmes that aim to alleviate poverty, generate urban and rural development, combat crime and substance abuse, and prevent social decay among youth. The NYDA lobbies other organs of state to consider national priorities in respect of youth development.

The NYDA offers the National Youth Service Programme (NYSP), which is a government initiative aimed at engaging South African youth in community service activities. The programme looks to strengthen service delivery, build patriotism, promote nation-building, foster social cohesion and assist the youth to acquire occupational skills.

The programme is established on the basis that it’s necessary to take practical steps to increase youth volunteering because it helps youth break the poverty cycle by facilitating access to decent work and could assist in reducing the country’s high youth unemployment rate. 

Youth volunteering can also help develop young leaders, foster social cohesion, encourage greater citizen participation, generate respect for equality, and promote diversity.

The NYDA aims to recruit 50 000 young people to the National Youth Service in the next year. This will allow them to earn an income, learn skills and increase their employability and offer meaningful quality service to their communities.

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Ensuring a community of caring youth

One such programme, run in a partnership between the NYDP and the Department of Arts and Culture is The Young Patriots Programme (TYPP).

This programme engages 300 young South Africans in activities aimed at popularising national symbols such as the national anthem and the national flag in schools, the audit of human treasures in communities as well as installation of flag poles. These activities are intended to build awareness of South African history and instil a sense of patriotism amongst the recruited patriots.

TYPP is aimed at educating the youth about history and heritage through practical experience. Participants work as community activists, engaging youth at schools and community libraries, to encourage social cohesion, nation-building and youth pride in their nationality.

The programme aims to create Youth Leaders who are aware of their country’s past, who are self-confident, fearless and ready to serve their country. These youth will work towards educating others about their history, heritage and the role played by young people in the struggle for national liberation.

Ultimately, TYPP will create job opportunities for youth in the Arts, Culture and Heritage sector.

TYPP is open to candidates between 18 and 35 with a minimum of a Grade 10 qualification. Candidates may live in any South African province, and the programme runs for one year.

The programme was launched in 2016 by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

“As government we encourage you to write your own stories. Most people don’t know beyond their grandparents. It’s our duty to understand where we come from… We need to know that as South Africans we are on a journey spiritually and intellectually to finish what we started.”

The programme’s objective is to conscientise youth about our national identity and culture, said Minister Mthethwa.

He added that the energy of young people should be harnessed positively and progressively. 

“We are on the right track to ensure that the youth of today are the caring youth. This is your space. Ensure that our culture and heritage is protected in your hands. And our culture is encapsulated in a very important value of our society – Ubuntu. It is our very essence as Africans – caring & sharing… We believe that you will go out with vigour to execute these tasks and deepen the national consciousness.”


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