Shaping The Future For At-Risk Youth
With the youth unemployment challenge facing South Africa, the Salesian Institute Youth Projects (SIYP) is establishing new innovative programmes to launch this year.
The new programmes will be aimed at youth between the ages of 18 and 24 not in employment and not in further training or education, but to successfully do this, they will need support and funding.
“Many of the youth we work with come from poor, crime-ridden communities in and around Cape Town. Education and skills training offers hope for them. The skills acquired while at SIYP can break the cycle of poverty—in particular, when older youth are assisted with job placements that offer new and life-changing opportunities,” said Salesian Father Patrick Naughton, SIYP chief executive officer.
There are currently two main projects for youth at risk in the greater Cape Town area. The projects are managed by a board of directors and staff, consisting of Salesians who live on the premises and professionals from the corporate and education sectors.
The Learn to Live School of Skills is a programme specifically for vulnerable and at-risk children and youth. The school has been recognised as an independent school of skills by the Western Cape Education Department.
The programme provides basic education and skills training to youth at risk who, for a variety of socio-economic reasons, cannot cope in mainstream schooling. There are very few such schools. The school currently caters for learners aged 14 to 18 studying at various levels.
All learners participate in academic classes and skills workshops and receive a cooked meal each day. Approximately 240 children arrive daily from the various communities and shelters in and around Cape Town.
Ninety percent of learners either graduate, continue education in a different facility, attract learnerships or find employment.
The “Porsche Project” or PTRC-ZA, is the latest addition to the SIYP programmes and is part of the Porsche After-Sales Vocational Education (PAVE) worldwide network that offers new opportunities to youth in the mechatronics arena.
To sustain current programmes and augment new innovative programmes into the future, SIYP requires urgent funding to continue with the provision of specialised programmes of education, skills and vocational training for very poor and at-risk youth from disadvantaged communities in Cape Town.
“In all our work we seek to fulfil our purpose by offering hope, igniting self-respect, healing the past and forging a new future—none of which would be possible without the extraordinary commitment of the staff and volunteers of the Salesian Institute Youth Projects, who absolutely believe in its mission, as well as the unstinting support of our funders,” Fr Naughton said.
“Our mission,” he added, “is to provide for the physical, educational and spiritual needs of youth at risk through the provision of education, counselling, recreation and training, in a professional, caring and secure environment.”
The Salesians have a rich 109-year history in Cape Town serving the needs of youth at risk by providing education and skills development training.
This, in turn, facilitates employment in a country with appalling unemployment rates, particularly among the youth. Other figures indicate that nearly a third of the youth in the country live in poverty.
Despite these negative indicators, the SIYP’s 2018 annual report confirmed that 63% of the youth SIYP worked with were successfully placed in jobs through one of their programmes. This was achieved against the current youth unemployment rate of 55%.
SIYP is appealing to the greater public, locally and internationally, to provide much-needed support for learners of the Learn to Live School of Skills.
“We need help to keep continuing to change the lives of the youth of South Africa and to shape their lives into something more positive,” said Fr Naughton.
“We know we can’t stop crime, gangsterism or total unemployment, but we want to offer an alternative.”
“Sustained and specialised interventions with the support of the public, is exactly what we will continue to do for our youth and their future potential,” he said.
To donate, visit their website at www.salesianyouth.org.za or contact Frieda Pehlivan on 021 425-1450.