This week marked the midpoint of parliament’s third term. On Wednesday, parliament was host to a number of sittings directly related to young people. The NYDA presented its performance for the first quarter of the financial year to the Portfolio Committee of Monitoring and Evaluation. Similarly, ministers in the social cluster (departments relating to social development) were fielding questions in the National Assembly. Here are the some highlights:
How is the Department of Basic Education dealing with teen pregnancy?
Earlier this year, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga revealed that 20 000 schoolgirls had fallen pregnant during 2014. On Wednesday, her department was asked what they were doing to curb the number of dropouts that resulted from teenage pregnancy. The department’s deputy minister, Enver Surty replied: “The department is currently focusing on a curriculum change that would deal with sex and reproductive health and the dangers of HIV. We’ve also introduced peer education for boy and girl learners that also ensures girl learners continue to learn and are not excluded.” Surty went on to mention that the department was working on a draft policy that would prevent pregnant schoolgirls from being expelled.
NYDA wants grant increase
The NYDA’s CEO, Kathu Ramukumba, told the Portfolio Committee of Monitoring and Evaluation that the agency would need to increase its grant from R408 to R600 million in order to benefit more young people. This, in spite of recent criticism leveled against the agency for its wage bill (close to 40% of the agency’s budget is spent on salaries).
Ramukumba also revealed that the agency had fallen behind on some of the targets it had set for the first quarter of the financial year (April to June). The agency created and sustained 554 jobs during the first quarter, 168 jobs short of their target of 722. He also revealed the agency had only developed 10 of a projected 16 communities during the said period.
Are we producing matriculants that address the skills shortage?
The DA’s shadow Minister for Basic Education Annette Lovemore wanted to know if the country was producing matriculants who would address the job market’s needs. She highlighted that a large number of matriculants who sat down for their exams are now unemployed, despite a demand for workers in artisanry. She asked how the department would address this “mismatch”
“In the past year, we’ve doubled registrations to TVET (technical) colleges,” replied Deputy Minister Surty. “We continue to fund students who choose a career in technical fields, and next year we’re set to introduce technical maths and technical science as subjects for people who want artisanal skills.”
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