Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation – Mr V Mutko
UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth – Ms J Wickramanayake
Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation – Ms O Vasilyeva
Head of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs – Mr A Bugaev Special
Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on International Cultural Co-operation – Mr M Shvydkoi
Rector of Lomonosov Moscow State University – Mr V Sadovnichy
Ministers of Youth Ambassadors
I wish to thank the Russian Federation and particularly the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs for convening this important International Ministerial Meeting of Ministers responsible for Youth Policies.
Young people represent an important positive force for social change. Their growth and development is intrinsically linked to the advancement and progress of our countries, regions and the world. Youth policies, particularly National Youth Policies, are essential instruments to address the needs of young men and women.
The National Youth Policy is a guiding policy instrument to respond to the needs and aspirations of our youth and to address the critical youth development challenges that they face. The National Youth Policy must be at the forefront of delivering a better future for young people.
A National Youth Policy is not worth the paper it is written on if it does not involve young people. Young men and women have a critical role to play in their own development. Their views matter and their voices must be heard. In developing South Africa’s National Youth Policy 2020, young people told us forcefully that there is nothing for them without them.
They are ready to be active partners in youth development. They are not looking for special favours from government. But instead, they want government to create an enabling environment which creates opportunity for them.
Our NYP 2020 prioritises five key areas:
Enabling economic participation and transformation Facilitating education, skills development and second chances Health care and combating substance abuse Facilitating nation building and social cohesion Effective and responsive youth development institutions
Each priority area has a set of policy and programme interventions. A National Monitoring and Evaluation Framework has been developed.
Education is one of the critical areas of the National Youth Policy.
The father of our nation, Nelson Mandela, reminded us that “education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world.” Education is about developing human capabilities so that young people can play their rightful role in society.
The African Union’s Agenda 2063 is premised on investing in the peoples of Africa through, amongst other things, expanding quality education. The African Youth Charter affirms that every young person shall have the right to good quality education. But still, quality education remains elusive for too many young Africans and young people from the developing world.
Education must remain a public good if we are serious about sustainable development. This requires targeted public investment in education for widening access and pursuing quality education outcomes.
In redressing apartheid legacy education policies, South Africa focus is about broadening public access and improving education quality outcomes. We spend about 20.5% of our national budget on basic and higher education. This equates to $23.7 billion (R320.5 billion) annually. Our access to post school education and training has steadily increased.
Young people in South Africa, largely through student movements embarked on a major nation-wide protest to demand quality, free public higher education. Similar protests took place in other parts of the world too. This signifies the premium that young people place on education and their recognition of how education can lift them out of poverty and improve their prospects for success. Education must be reclaimed as a public good.
Free basic education for the poor, a national school nutrition programme and a national bursary programme for teachers are some of the measures that South Africa has instituted to increase quality education outcomes. Over the last five years South Africa has considerably increased its investment in technical and vocational education and training colleges. This has resulted in a doubling of TVET intake of new students. Our National Students Financial Aid Scheme has funded over 300,000 students for the 2017 academic year.
Although considerable government investment has been made in basic and higher education, we still seek better education outcomes. Institutional and systemic changes have been introduced. There are pockets of excellence emerging. Our planning, monitoring and evaluation systems are maturing leading us to make evidence based policy decisions around youth and education.
Education matters and it matters to young people. Our National Youth Policies must prioritise education. As Ministers responsible for Youth Policy, we must ensure that education for young people is always at the top of the global development agenda. We must advocate for and with young people for an increased access and better quality education. After all, it really is a powerful weapon that can change the world.
I thank you.