Today, South Africa celebrates Youth Day, commemorating the young people who on 16 June 1976, stood up to demand a better life, and a better future.
Just like those young people from 1976, the youth of this country deserve better: youth unemployment in South Africa is unacceptably high and children and young people face poverty, violence and abuse on a daily basis.
But just like those young people from 1976, our young people also have an important role to play in shaping the future of this country and of this province.
Education, knowledge and skills are the keys that will unlock their future and I encourage young people to make the most of every opportunity available to them.
The Western Cape Government provides access to a wealth of information through libraries, schools, youth cafés and free access to the internet. These are tools that young people can use to learn, to develop skills and to connect to opportunities.
As the government of this province, we in turn commit to continue to provide quality education, expanding access to education and investing in skills development programs that prepare young people for future careers in the fields of science and technology, engineering, coding and mathematics.
We commit to continue focusing on growing the economy, and creating an enabling environment for investors, which will in turn spark job creation.
Young people in this province deserve to feel safe and I call on young people to speak out against abuse, to become active citizens working for the good of their families, schools or communities and to avoid becoming involved in drugs, gangs or crime themselves.
All too often, we see young people in this province and elsewhere, drawn into criminal activities, either through pure necessity, or with the promise of a different lifestyle.
For our part, the Western Cape Government is committed to ensuring that this province becomes safer. We have developed after-school and school holiday programmes, walking buses and school safety programmes in a bid to keep young people safe. We are also committed to the process of appointing a Children’s Commissioner who will champion children’s rights.
We are working to ensure that policing in this province is allocated more resources and we’re focused on turning our public transport system around, so that young people have access to safe, reliable transportation that will allow them to get to school, university or to their jobs safely and on time.
This year, Father’s Day and Youth Day fall on the same day. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those fathers, biological or not, who have played an active role in positively shaping the lives of young people.
Children and young people need positive male role models to look up to, and to keep them safe. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads but also to the grandfathers, guardians, uncles, teachers, police officers, neighbourhood watch members, and community members who have stepped in to show love, and kindness to other people’s children.