Columnists 9.9.2016 05:01 am

Use SA’s untapped potential

Marchers gesture while walking through the streets, 15 June 2015, in Soweto, Johannesburg for the Youth Day Parade. The march, hosted by the Gauteng Education Department, saw thousands of schoolchildren march from Mofolo Park to Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto to commemorate the June 16, 1976, Soweto uprising. Picture: Alaister Russell

Marchers gesture while walking through the streets, 15 June 2015, in Soweto, Johannesburg for the Youth Day Parade. The march, hosted by the Gauteng Education Department, saw thousands of schoolchildren march from Mofolo Park to Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto to commemorate the June 16, 1976, Soweto uprising. Picture: Alaister Russell

The War on Leaks programme is a sterling effort to respond to the call to invest in the training of the youth.

The War on Leaks programme of the department of water and sanitation is already making significant strides throughout the country.

The programme is aimed at curbing water losses incurred through leaking taps and deals decisively with both the conservation of water resources and an intractable lack of skills. The programme in some way reduces the number of youths who seek skills but are unable to get them because they cannot afford university fees.

The second phase of the programme, with its intake of 7 000 youths, is set to partly deal with shortage of skills as these young people are now being trained as water agents, plumbers and artisans. But the programme should not be seen as a panacea but as one way government is alleviating the challenges of access to skills.

The government’s efforts, through the department, for dealing with the twin challenges of water losses and youth skills are set to drag the country out of the education and fees issues that continue to stoke the fires of disaffection in our communities.

Being sensitive to the untapped potential of young people in the community, the department is assisting the youth to improve their self-esteem, pushing to integrate them into the mainstream economy that desperately needs their participation.

The youth should be at the forefront of creation of sustainable small and micro-enterprises essential to both economic growth and the future of social-political sustainability.

That is why the youth must grab these opportunities with both hands and not simply Friday 12 9 September 2016 drop out of training programmes. The programme, which was announced by President Jacob Zuma in his 2015 State of the Nation address, has already trained 3 000 youths.

The training is a ray of hope for many young people, especially those in the townships who lack opportunities because of no skills. Having had minimal opportunities, the youth who train under the War on Leaks programme will be able to branch out and start their own businesses. It is crucial that all sector partners up the ante in terms of communication between stakeholders so that trainees understand the aim of the programme.

Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation Pamela Tshwete recently said: “Students must be given a bigger picture of the programme. “We need to own every aspect of the programme to drastically reduce unemployment and to end water losses.”

The programme is also giving the efforts for curbing water losses a new lease on life. Already there exist exceedingly high water losses through leaking taps and illegal connections, which cost the country a hefty price tag of more than R7 billion.

The loss of water in a country such as ours, which is currently facing a drought, can potentially spark conflicts over water resources. Given our dire water situation and a lack of skills for our youth, the programme’s second intake of trainess indicates that we are well on our way to an incalculable positive outlook.

This is not merely a symbolic gesture on the part of government. It is a sterling effort to respond to the call to invest in the training of the youth.

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