Windhoek – The National Youth Service (NYS) has mooted compulsory civil service training and community service for unemployed youth, Grade 10 and 12 dropouts, as well as school graduates before they enter university, and students at tertiary level, among others.
It would be a strategic move to address youth unemployment by providing hands-on training, whilst furthering the country’s developmental goals.
Graduates from the national service are expected to be deployed in the public and private sectors, as well as in rural and urban settings to narrow the gap between the demand for and supply of skilled Namibians.
These and many more proposals are contained in a concept paper, entitled ‘A Compulsory/Hybridised and Collaborative National Youth Service Model’,
drafted by the NYS for consultation and debate. The concept emerged after a consultative workshop noted that in 2015 about 17 000 learners could not proceed to Grade 11 due to academic failure and that the current NYS capacity of only 5 000 entrants will not accommodate this number.
It was further noted that the majority of this group of Grade 10 dropouts end up in economically unproductive outlets, such as clubs, shebeens and bars and often become unproductive.
“The deployment of young people to compulsory community service programmes in different parts of the country to engage them in different developmental projects in different sectors will fulfill a critical national and patriotic duty,” the document suggests.
“Through their work, they will strengthen and improve communities, change lives by filling gaps in the various sectors of our economy, such as education, health, public safety, community development and environmental protection.”
The concept paper suggests the contribution of young people enhances social cohesion, which mitigates against violent conflict and fosters reconciliation in post-conflict situations: “Part of this would be about applying skills and experiences acquired during the national service duty to the benefit of the country and its people.”
The paper suggests the category of school dropouts will have the option to undergo all three training components, including civil, community service and vocational skills development training, that could last up to three and a half years.
“Incentives may include preferential treatment for recruitment into certain civil service jobs, as well as access to tailor-made micro-credit, mentorship and entrepreneurial skills development programmes,” the proposal reads.
Grade 12 graduates, who will be recruited before starting their studies at tertiary institutions, will go through the compulsory civil and community services components and will then have an option to proceed to the vocational skills development component.
“The accumulated experience will be recognised for mature-age entry into tertiary educational institutions. Incentives may include preferential treatment for recruitment in government, as well as for government-sponsored scholarships.”
Those already enrolled at tertiary institutions could undertake both initial components either before or after their studies. “A certain component could be infused into the contemporary social issues modules offered Unam and Nust, whereas the community service component could be linked to an internship year that the students are required to do.”
It is also suggested in the concept paper that the compulsory component of the youth service programme be premised on the principle of social inclusivity by providing equal access to opportunities to all young people, as this would “promote social cohesion and sustainable and egalitarian developmental objectives.”