Invitations to attend the National Development Plan (NDP) youth gathering this past weekend from 5 to 6 October were extended to youth-led organisations within the Nelson Mandela Bay District, including the Rhodes University Student Representative Committee (SRC).
Minister Trevor Manuel and Commissioners of the NDP engaged with the youth at Nongoza Community Hall, New Brighton in Port Elizabeth. The gathering was a youth led initiative. This gathering was the first step in enabling far reaching discussions around the NDP and ensuring that such discussions reach the inequitable and impoverished parts of our country.
I welcome such inclination towards creating platforms for youth engagement. I also applaud the organisers, youth and Commissioners for their presence and concern for the future of this country.
Having said that, it is in my view important to comment on the response of youth, particularly those in the EC, to the challenge posed to them by policy documents such as the National Development Plan, for the sole purpose of improving gatherings such as the one attended this past weekend.
The National Development Plan is not a document that a student from Chubekile Senior Secondary School in KwaZakhele can simply comprehend, as it were; some university students struggle to make sense of this document. Moreover, some students in tertiary institutions have mentioned that the NDP does not adequately state how it will address a lot of the issues it outlines and the students also question the accuracy of the information used as a basis of the NDP because some government departments have been quoting different figures of what the population is in certain districts.
The length of the document is disheartening; it is made up of over 350 pages. This is not a document an average 17 year old will readily engage with, let alone understand. Thus, platforms such as the one created this past weekend are plausible for a more inclusive engagement with the youth of the Eastern Cape region and South Africa as a whole.
However, it is important that the youth leaves platforms such as the NDP one this past weekend feeling as though their views are undoubtedly noted. The organisers in future must ensure that there is a monitoring and evaluation process that is established around the resolutions made in the discussions, so that feedback is given. Often the latter component is neglected, which results in despondency from members of the youth towards our government.
Finally, I propose that this document be made available, if possible, in all South African official languages, this way it will be more accessible.
The efforts being made towards the development of South Africa should not go unnoticed but it is equally important to constructively criticize, to ensure that a better life for all South Africans is realized.