Construction of good quality houses, roads and other infrastructure projects depend on the transfer of skills through systematic and sustainable scholarship programmes designed to empower the youth.
Minister of Human Settlements, Nomaindia Mfeketo, speaking to 3 500 Grade 11 and 12 learners from 28 schools at the Intsika Yethu Municipality in Cofimvaba at the end of August 2018, said young people needed to grab the opportunities offered by the Department.
“You need certain skills to be able to contribute meaningfully to the development of sustainable human settlements and the department offers bursaries. All you need to do is to study hard and apply on time for the scholarship,” said Mfeketo.
The Career Expo, championed by the Department of Human Settlements and its entities in partnership with the Department of Education, is part of an outreach programme aimed at ensuring that information on departmental programmes and opportunities is accessed by all learners throughout the country.
Lalise Mtetwa, a Grade 10 leaner from Zwelandile High School in Cofimvaba said he has learnt a lot about different career opportunities within the human settlements sector and how to access them.
“After being exposed to different careers today, I think I would like to become a building inspector as my school subjects are related to the course requirements and I am determined to work hard to qualify for the scholarship,” said Mtetwa.
The Department of Human Settlements offers bursaries to students that would want to be specialists in the built environment and a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Settlements is now offered at the Universities of Fort Hare, Nelson Mandela, UNISA, Free Sate and Mangosuthu University of Technology.
One of the programme’s beneficiaries Mnikeli Nkenke, 31, applied for the Human Settlements Scholarship in 2008 and was granted bursary in 2009 to study engineering at Durban University of Technology. He graduated in 2014 and he now works at the Enoch Mgijima Municipality as a Civil Engineering Technician.
“I come from a very disadvantaged background, my father passed on in 2006 and life became difficult as there was no one to take care of the family. When I passed Grade 10 in 2007, my English teacher asked me to go and live him at a farm where I took care of his livestock and he helped me with bursary applications.
“The Human Settlements Scholarship Programme helped me a lot as I now have a good job and I am able to take care of my mother and my three brothers,” said Nkenke.
Human Settlements Portfolio Committee Chairperson Nocawe Mafu said one of the issues hindering youth progress and empowerment was drug abuse. ”You need to stay away from drug abuse, you will not finish your studies if you get involved with drugs because they will damage your ability to succeed,” said Mafu.