REMARKS OF MINISTER LINDIWE ZULU, MP ON THE OCCASION OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT RECOGNITION OF PRIOR LEARNING (RPL) GRADUATION CEREMONY

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Molweni. Goeie more. Good morning.

1. I would like to begin by offering my heartfelt congratulations to each and every one of our graduates here today for achieving this important milestone—obtaining the Community Development Practitioners National Qualification Framework Level 5 Certificate.

2. I also wish to acknowledge your families, friends and mentors who supported and encouraged on your learning journey. You are on the right path to making a contribution to the professionalisation of community development as a discipline and practice that will occupy its rightful position among the social service professions.

3. This is a historic occasion because you are now a cohort of the 581 pioneers of the Community Development Practitioners who will help to shape the community development profession in South Africa, and I look forward to your services and contributions for the benefit of all South Africans. I hope this is not the end, but the beginning of your learning journey.

4. Please continue to learn and grow both personally and professionally in order for you to support the development of our people and country. Let us never forget the words of our own Tata Madiba: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Education remains at the centre of our developmental aspirations and the achievement of Vision 2030 as outlined in the National Development Plan.

5. One of the challenges that confront this administration is the high levels of young people between 15-24 years that are currently neither in employment, education and training (NEET) as shown by the Quarterly Labour Force Survey released by Stats SA yesterday. And that is why we welcome initiatives such as the one we are celebrating this morning by the HWSETA, which aims to improve education, skills, experience and employment opportunities of our young and contribute to our national development. On this note, I want to convey my heartfelt condolences to families of the two young people who passed on before this ceremony.

6. One of the key priorities in the Performance Agreement that I signed as the Minister of Social Development with President Ramaphosa is to increase the employment of social service professionals, including Community Development Practitioners. According Chapter 11 of the National Development Plan, South Africa requires close to 55 000 social service professionals to respond to the myriad of social issues confronting our country.

7. Yesterday, we presented a Cabinet Memorandum on the strategy for the employment of social service professionals, including Community Development Practitioners. We will soon take the Community Development Policy to Cabinet to ensure that we standardise qualifications and practice.

8. Poverty, unemployment, inequality, gender-based violence, homelessness and substance use disorders are some of the social ills we need to address as a matter of urgency. So, as community development practitioners I hope that you are ready to diligently serve your communities and our country and shoulder the responsibility to take on these challenging but noble duties.

9. My expectation is that you will do your utmost to execute your noble duties so that you always live up to the trust and expectations placed upon you by our people. As the Minister, I will continue to make every possible effort to ensure that we address the issue of employment opportunities in the sector.

10. I am pleased to note that the partnership between the DSD Portfolio and the Health and Welfare Sector Training Authority is growing in leaps and bounds. I commend the leadership of HWSETA for this initiative because it complements the strategy on the employment of social service professionals and fits into the broader vision of the National Development Plan.

11. It therefore gives me great pleasure to be associated with this initiative because this is what our country needs—to give our young people hope and skills to succeed. Chairperson and CEO, I hope that discussions are underway to expand this initiative throughout the country. If not, I hope those discussions will start immediately here to ensure that we do not lose the momentum.

12. This graduation ceremony, although small, attest to the need to invest more in our young people. It is a small step in numbers, but a great leap forward. It highlights the extent to which through the Recognition of Prior Learning, we can bring change to communities by empowering community development practitioners who work with communities but with no requisite skills.

13. This graduation ceremony marks an important delivery milestone for our government and further re-affirms our commitment to the National Skills Development Strategy. This day is also proof that indeed our government is serious about addressing the skills gap and drawing significant numbers of the unemployed into productive work. We will continue to collaborate with HWSETA not only on this, but many other initiatives as part of our contribution to nation building and South Africa’s Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Programme.

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