Farirai Machivenyika-Senior Reporter
Cabinet yesterday approved the re-establishment of the National Youth Training Programme after it was suspended in 2018.
The approval followed proposals presented to Cabinet by the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Kirsty Coventry after consultations between her ministry and that of Defence and War Veterans Affairs.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa said the programme was an important youth development initiative crucial in nurturing young people into becoming responsible and resilient citizens with a clear sense of national identity and respect for national values.
The programme was also a key strategy for youth empowerment in national, regional, continental and international development guiding frameworks to which Zimbabwe was a member.
These included the Sadc Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan; the African Youth Charter of 2006; the World Programme of Action on Youth and the United Nations Youth Strategy 2030.
“The programme is designed to equip youths, who comprise persons between the ages of 18 and 35 years with patriotism, discipline, volunteerism, survival skills, hard work, loyalty, tolerance, resilience, determination and honesty.
“During training, the youths will be encouraged to participate in development projects and disaster response activities and thereby assist in enhancing national capacity to manage disasters,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.
She added that country’s Constitution required all institutions and agencies of Government to ensure that youths had access to appropriate education and training, that they participate in social, economic and other spheres of life, and that they are empowered and protected from harmful practices, exploitation and abuse.
Under the revamped programme, Vocational Training Centres across all the provinces will focus on entrepreneurship and livelihood skills training encompassing enterprise awareness, opportunity identification, project financing, and basic farming.
The Civil Protection Unit will place emphasis on disaster mitigation and management skills.
“The roll-out of the National Youth Service Programme will involve community attachment of youths for work experience and service to various Government departments and local authorities,” she said.
“Graduates of the programme will qualify for further training, assistance in starting businesses, and for enrolment for careers in the police, the army, the airforce, nursing and teaching, among others.
The programme will also take on board the disabled and maintain gender balance and fair regional representation, with recruitment taking place through District Offices.”
The programme will be funded by Government upon enactment of the necessary law, but will also be mandated to generate its own income through engagement in commercial activities.
The youths will not pay fees but will be provided with uniforms, training kits and travel expenses and will be accorded allowances dependent on availability of funds.
The National Youth Service was first introduced in 2000 as a brainchild of the late national hero and former Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation Minister, Cde Border Gezi.