Youth corps participants ‘left in the dark’

2015-10-05 10:20
Youth Corps

Youth Corps (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - After participating in the National Rural Youth Service Corps for four years, a group of participants have said the programme had achieved very little.

The 39 participants’ contracts ended last week. The corps was started by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform in 2011 to train the rural youth through further education and training programmes linked to identified developmental community projects in rural areas.

However, some of the participants said they had spent most of the past four years doing nothing but helping the department’s officials with their office workload.

The participants, who earned a monthly stipend of R1 320, said they had initially been contracted for eight months but the department kept on extending their stay. The department’s spokesperson Sipho Dlamini said they had enrolled the youth into a “Management and Administration Level 5 qualification with the Services SETA”, at a technical college in Port Shepstone.

However, the participants said they had never set foot inside the college.

“We had to stay near the college in a bed and breakfast, and had our classes there in the residence’s conference rooms. We were taught by two women who called themselves facilitators, not even qualified teachers or lecturers,” said team leader Zodwa Mthalane.

“We are not scared to say that we did not learn anything from that semi-college training, because those facilitators did not know a thing.

“We actually corrected them in most cases, because they seemed not to know what they were doing,” she said.

While attending a compulsory military training stint in Kimberley in 2012, Mthalane said they were subjected to an HIV test without counselling.

“There was no privacy whatsoever in those tests. We could see each others’ results. Some tested positive,” added Simangele Gazu, one of the participants.

Gazu said the department had not informed them that they were going for military training. “We assumed it was some form of training. Words cannot describe the abuse we got from the soldiers. We used to get sick so often that some of us were admitted to hospital.

“We reported that matter, but no one seemed to bother and we were told by the soldiers that if you die there you die, end of story. We were crying every day wanting to go back home,” she said.

Another group leader Qinisela Nyembe said he does not know what the future holds for them after the end of their contracts. “The department left us in the dark,” he said.

Dlamini said the department was not aware of these allegations. He said participants had not been promised employment after the programme.

“The youth need to use the skills they acquired to develop themselves further,” said Dlamini, adding the department had already employed two people from the group of about 39. Dlamini said the youth did their community component in the department’s offices in Pietermaritzburg. He did not answer questions about the military training or HIV tests

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  youth

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