Launching of the San Youth Scholarship Training Programme

Increasing academic attainment among the San people

30 November 2021 | Education

Desiree Gases





The San Youth Scholarship Training Programme was launched on 19 November 2021 at Cosdec (Community Skills Development Centres) at Tsumeb in the Oshikoto Region.

The programme will benefit 402 beneficiaries from Oshikoto and Otjozondjupa regions and is financially supported by Palms for Life Fund Namibia, the government (NSFAF) and the Namibia Community Skills Development Foundation (Cosdef).

The staggering youth unemployment rate (currently 43%), the scholarship programme is preparing historically marginalised San youth for today’s job market. Providing gainful employment to the unemployed San youth is one of the top priorities of Palms for Life Fund. After basic education, San youth face fewer job opportunities due to lack of skilled knowledge. For their livelihood they are bound to involve in unsocial activities. While employment avenues may be available, the San youths do not have compatible skillsets. Unemployment, therefore, continues to rise inexorably in San communities. Koesha Martin, Cosdef business development and marketing manager, remarked: “The result of this initiative is perpetuation of poverty, right in the midst of opportunity.”

Just over a tenth of those who enrol in primary school actually reach degree level. The huge pool of school dropouts thrown up by the system year after year are unfit for sustainable mainstream employment. Palms for Life Fund is proposing to address this problem with a market-based approach that is sensitive to the socio-economic needs of marginalised youth in the 18-30 age group.

As of August 2021, 402 San youth have been enrolled at 5 Cosdec centres around the country, with fully paid 6–12-month scholarships. The programme provides skills to empower San youth to transition smoothly from studying to employment and/or entrepreneurship.

The programme covers different vocational and technical courses over a period of three years. The bridging programme covers the following courses: bricklaying and plastering; joinery and cabinet making; plumbing and pipefitting and office administration. In addition to the practical unit standards, these courses also cover some generic subjects such as: basic reading skills in a workplace environment, communication, basic numeracy, awareness of HIV and Aids, workplace health and safety and entrepreneurship. To qualify for the San Youth Scholarship Training Programme, applicants must be from the San community and between the ages of 18 and 30.

The San Youth Scholarship Training Programme will advantage the beneficiaries by increasing educational outcomes of the San youths in Namibia, the project would benefit from a long-term reduction in poverty, empowered youths ready to interact effectively and have equitable interaction with society and government. The overall project seeks to address the need for a better skilled labour force, which is a priority for Namibia. The ultimate goal is to ensure the supply of skills necessary to the expansion and diversification of the economy through skills development programmes which will ensure a smooth transition to employment and to entrepreneurship. It will also benefit them by dramatically increasing educational opportunities for San youth, they expect an increase in the national, skilled workforce, as well as improved family income and employment, improved social cohesion and overall well-being- as these are important contributions to the Harambee Prosperity Plan, particularly the aim of working towards inclusive growth. The successful completion of the bridging programme will ensure articulation to mainstream TVET, where they will have access to NSFAF funding like all other public TVET trainees.

The San Youth Scholarship Training Programme is a tripartite agreement between Palms for Life Fund Namibia, who will fund the training, Cosdef, an accredited training provider, who will provide the training, and the ministry of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare, who assisted in the identification and selection of the students and provides transport to and from communities to Cosdec Centres. This collaboration with the government is essential, as the ministry’s development planners monitor and mentor the students, strengthening their educational outcomes. Cosdef is a strategic partner since they have tremendous experience in training disadvantaged groups and the marginalised San youths and have centres in regions where most of the San populations are residing. The Cosdec centres also provide quality and inclusive vocational training.

“Giving San youths a full scholarship in vocational training is a practical avenue for acquiring readily employable skills for the world of work. Namibia needs skilled workers. In particular, competent artisans and technicians are needed to fill skills gaps in various sectors of the economy, including the building and construction industry, power and energy plants, water distribution and sanitation systems, and large public works,” remarked Koesha Martin.

This initiative aims at addressing disparities in access to vocational education for San youths, promoting an equitable, inclusive and empowered youth, promoting dialogue on minority education issues in Namibia and in the long-term reducing poverty for the most vulnerable group in Namibia by reducing barriers to vocational education for San youth. Directly through job creation and indirectly through increased academic attainment, the action will assist in reducing poverty amongst San communities.

These are efforts of Cosdef and Palms for Life Fund as part of their mission to develop communities, and is urging the youth to embrace skills development as a way forward to improve their livelihoods.

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