The MEC for the Eastern Cape Department of Social Development (DSD), Nancy Sihlwayi and Rhodes
University hosted an emotional graduation ceremony for over 168 young people who completed a
three-year National Youth Service skills programme in level 4 Community Development on 30
November 2017 at Rhodes University.
The Department of Social Development invested R6 million in empowering rural young people from
all over the Eastern Cape Province with community development skills, through training by the
Rhodes University’s Faculty of Education, facilitated by the Centre for Social Development.
Speaking at the graduation, Sihlwayi said, “In a country and province where there is a challenge of
critical skills and high levels of youth unemployment, skilling of young people is an essential step in
readying them for the labour market and as job-creators too”.
Unemployed youth between the ages of 18 and 35 were trained in sustainable development in
communities, management of supply chain, logistics, finance and mathematics.
She added that, “we have equipped you to start the process of long term development of our
society. You are our eyes and ears on the ground, your passion will determine whether this was an
investment and your continued commitment will ensure lifelong learning and self-development”.
Professor Di Wilmot, Dean of the Faculty of Education, expressed the University’s commitment to
the partnership as an Eastern Cape university.
“Despite being based in Grahamstown, we have a role to play in the addressing the high level of poverty and unemployment among the youth in the province. We are creating pathways for young people who have fallen out of the schooling system to get training and embark on dignified career paths that also serve their respective communities,” she said.
Speaking on behalf of all the graduates, Nokuthula Yamaphi, a graduate from Alice painted a picture
of the abject poverty of resources and knowledge that characterises rural homestead, including her
“We are grateful to the department and Rhodes University for this amazing and rare opportunity to
become qualified community development practitioners as young as we are. We have learnt to
develop original ideas, through us people will know about services offered by the government and
we will assist them to access them,” she enthused.
In 1997, the Education White Paper 3 on the Transformation of Higher Education called on higher
education institutions to promote and develop social responsibility and awareness among students
of the role of higher education in social and economic development through community service. It
introduced the concept of service learning in higher education institutions.
Through the National Youth Policy 2020, the National Youth Service aims to ensure economic
participation and transformation, education skills and second chances, health care and combating
This programme has formed part of the Department of Social Developments' initiative to upskill the
youth in the Eastern Cape. The community development practitioners are all in in-service and work
in projects specific to their communities.