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Youth as Facilitative Leaders (YFL) Programme

1. Organisational Background

Itereleng:ICA is a South African Non-Profit Organisation that was formed in 2001, with the aim of building capacity amongst individuals and communities through the use of unique participatory methods known as Technologies of Participation (ToP). It is the organisation’s firm belief that, only through genuine participation, can communities truly take ownership and control of their development and destiny. This is in fulfilment of the organisation vision " To be a major role player in the promotion of genuine participation, restored human growth and dignity in an equal society."

Itereleng is a Tswana word meaning “people doing things for themselves”. It neatly summarises our philosophy and our aims as an organisation, as well as giving our name a South African flavour.

Itereleng:ICA (South Africa) is registered with the Department of Social Development as a Non Profit Organisation (ref. 015-766), is a member of the South African national NGO Coalition (SANGOCO) and of ICA International.

Nonhlanla a participant to HIV/AIDS Training

Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) is a worldwide network of organisations focusing on participatory approaches and human-centred, holistic development. ICA is present in more than 30 countries, including 12 in Africa.

Youth as Facilitative Leaders (YFL) Programme is the organisation’s major programme that has been working with young people from different areas of Johannesburg since 2002. The overall goal of the programme is “To develop young people as facilitative leaders to mobilize and influence positive social change in their schools and communities.” Young people are taken through a process of training in peer education, facilitation, youth development and life-skills.

2. Brief History of YFL

  2002 Initial training on HIV/AIDS, Facilitation, Communication & Gender issues with groups of 30 young people from 6 different schools around Johannesburg
(Kagiso, Alexandra & Eldorado Park)
Celebration event for representatives of all participating schools
Intensive training of 20 representatives (total) from all schools in Facilitation methods and skills

Ongoing development of core group of 20 young people as YFL membersIntensive training with Street Children at Twilight Shelter, Johannesburg

Appointment of 1st young person as YFL Programme co-ordinator
Intensive Gender training of core group through ‘Men As Partners’ network
  2005 Participation by Programme Co-ordinator in Africa Unite, Youth Conference organised by UNICEF in Ethiopia
Collaboration with UNICEF (SA) on various youth-related events
Selection of 2nd young person as YFL Programme co-ordinator

Development of new training programme with 10 groups (in-and-out of school) in Johannesburg and North West

Throughout the programme’s life, there has been ongoing training, meetings and support for core members of the group. The training has included the following: Participatory Facilitation Skills and Methods; Assertive Communication skills; Gender; Understanding & Tackling Racism & Sexism; Youth-Adult Partnerships; Co-Counselling;

3. Context of Youth Development in South Africa

  Judy (center) from Rotary Club of Rosebank – Johannesburg attended ICA HIV/AIDS Training in Alexandra  

Historically, young people have played a significant role in the development of South Africa, notably being at the forefront of the anti-apartheid struggle, which led to the achievement of a new democratic dispensation in 1994. Since then, young people continue to face a wide range of challenges that prevent many from achieving their full rights, which are now constitutionally guaranteed. These include an official unemployment rate of 30% (which rises amongst Black young people in urban townships to between 60-80%); continued racial inequality in all areas of life (from housing to education to income levels etc); an HIV infection rate of 25% (especially affecting young women) and the corollary of very high levels of violence against women (145 rapes, or six every hour, occur every day in a country of 45 million people, the highest in the world). Other forms of violence and aggression, against foreigners, young people in general and young women in particular, are very commonplace and, as with other issues, the legacy of the apartheid system continues to debilitate South African society.

The South African population, like most in Africa, is a very youthful one (over 40% of the population is under 35) and effective youth development programmes are, therefore, critical to the continued development of the country’s socio-economic fabric.

The YFL Programme targets highly disadvantaged urban and rural areas around Gauteng and North West Provinces. The programme aims to work in partnership with young people, putting them at the centre of their own development through establishment of strong relationships with young people and other stake-holders, such as schools, parents and other youth-focused organisations and institutions.

4. Challenges Faced by the YFL Programme

The YFL programme has faced many challenges since its’ inception, mostly relating to sustainability and financing of the programme. The methods of working with young people have been effective and the organisation has been continually challenged to find the most effective ways of communicating with the young people involved in the programme.

Funding to support the YFL programme has been received from British High Commission, Hope for Children, AJWS and Engender Health. However, there have been long periods when the programme has existed through the goodwill of the young people, who have been willing to participate without any tangible ‘rewards’ such as provision of transport money, refreshments etc. This can be seen as a significant success in that many young people have greatly valued the knowledge and skills they have gained beyond any material benefits.

Another challenge has been the process of “handing over” the programme to young people. This has been a process of gradually grooming, mentoring and supporting key members of the group to the point where they co-ordinate, facilitate and direct the programme, with the back-up and support of the organisation as a whole.

5. Successes of the YFL Programme

  Youth As Facilitative Leaders led by Muzi Mbonani being interviewed at Alex FM Radio Station  

The YFL programme has successfully been fulfilling its’ vision of encouraging social change, through the young people who have been part of the programme, who can be seen as social change agents. A few examples of their many activities are as follow

  • Community work in orphanages, care centres, other schools and youth centres
  • Facilitation of youth issues discussions on community radio
  • Co-Facilitation of training programmes with Itereleng:ICA at other schools, in rural areas and with street-children in Johannesburg
  • Development of support groups to prevent suicide (depression issues) and other
  • Organisation of a street campaign to lobby for children's rights
  • Peer education activities within schools around issues of gender, HIV/AIDS, children’s rights, substance abuse, self-awareness & anti-oppression etc. The activities have included training, carnivals, motivational talks, school assemblies, drama, creation of materials & distribution of information
  • Over 1000 young people have been trained & educated on the various issues detailed above
  • Young people have discussed how they have been able to effectively use new skills in difficult situations they have faced at home, school and in their communities
  • One group were “ministers” at their school and have been involved in a range of initiatives, such as visits to parliaments, meetings with MEC’s and ministers etc.

The other significant success of the programme has been that YFL members have not only developed a wide range of skills and shared these with others, but have also grown into an effective team, who are able to work collectively and individually. As advocates for youth issues, YFL members have excelled in many different settings, such as in their schools, with other organisations and in various workshops, presentations and conferences. In short, they represent South African youth with pride, intelligence and dignity.

6. Lessons Learnt from the YFL Programme

  • It is crucial for young people to lead and be in control of ‘their’ programmes. This is a process that takes time but the YFL programme has become most effective as young people increasingly take charge of the direction of the programme, with the support of adults in the organisation
  • Youth developmentand empowerment is a long-term process and can only be effectively measured over a period of years rather than months. The impact of YFL can be seen most clearly amongst those who have been involved for 2 years or more
  • It is crucial for youth and community workers to focus on the gifts, talents, knowledge and skills of young people as a starting point, rather than their needs or problems
  • Young people must be seen as uniquely talented individuals, capable of great achievement. In the words of Gerrit Maritz, Education officer with UNICEF (SA), “at Itereleng:ICA, young people are seen as valuable not vulnerable.”

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