Government commits to address youth challenges

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) put its weight behind corrective and sustainable measures to address a significant problem - the lack of direction for young men, leading to unemployment, crime, hopelessness and abuse of drugs and alcohol.

This followed a turbulent week in which our country’s socio-economic ills were laid bare.

Speaking at the launch of Tracker’s Men in the Making initiative, Dr. Shermain Mannah, Director Social Cohesion and Equity in Education, acknowledged that the academic curriculum is simply not enough to change the plight of our youth.

“It’s clear that we need to address the significant challenges that face young men. The social dimension of education is becoming increasingly important. A balance [of academic and social aspects] has to be reached in realising our collective responsibility as a nation.”

Add to this the recent remarks by Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor speaking out against the poor quality of Maths and Science education, calling for renewed commitment to addressing the problem.

In its sixth year, the Men in the Making initiative allows young men to experience a day within corporate brands in the country, exposing them to different careers and expanding their horizons.

The holistic programme includes a strong mentoring component, which kicks in after the learner has spent the day with the corporate. For many, the opportunity includes an address by the CEO, job shadowing, team building exercises, a career guidance session and motivational talks.

Dr. Mannah added, “The Men in the Making programme is important because it creates balance and inculcates the kind of life skills that we need to develop in young men, especially young men who are vulnerable.”

Tracker launched Men in the Making on 25th March 2009, immediately gaining support and endorsement from the Department of Basic Education - directly in line with their Boy Education Movement (BEM) School Programme. Of the over 140 corporate participants, many of the country’s well-known leaders have joined - MTN, Rand Merchant Bank, First National Bank, Price Water House Coopers, Department of Energy, Hollard, MiWay, MWEB, NECSA, AFGRI, Vuka Africa, Transnet, and FirstRand to name a few.

In 2009, its first year, the event reached 400 students from 35 companies. Today, a total of 6000 young men have been impacted. Annually the event feeds back positive case studies with some organisations digging deep to make a connection.

Explains Tshego Bokaba, CSI Manager at Tracker, “We continue to receive fantastic testimonies from the young boys who have been through the programme. These are only possible with the support of corporate South Africa, the Government department and business leaders. This initiative is more than just one day in the life of a corporate; it’s about providing ongoing support and environment to deal with societal pressures and overcome obstacles that could potentially hinder their dreams.”

Dr. Mannah concludes, “We’re looking to take this programme to wider parts of the country.”

Mannah’s direct and heartfelt commitment comes at a time when solutions and action must eclipse politicking. With a public impatient for change and a youth in need of direction it’s time to nurture boys into men.

For media queries please contact Chad Fichardt, [email protected], 072 999 7342.