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A critical review of the national youth service programme in Zimbabwe
National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations in Zimbabwe (NANGO)
December 30, 2011

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Executive Summary

The National Youth Service Programme in Zimbabwe has attracted attention and criticism from various actors across the globe. It is these criticisms that have necessitated a reflection on the programme under the new political dispensation of the Global Political Agreement which acknowledges the importance of the programme and the need for its review. The overall objective of the research is to provide key policy makers with valuable insights and recommendations on a credible National Youth Service framework that prepares the youth for a productive adulthood within the context of a wider National Youth Policy. The specific objectives are to:

  • Review the focus and framework of the current national youth service policy in Zimbabwe
  • Critically analyze strengths and weaknesses of the current National Youth Service policy
  • Gather recommendations from youth organizations on an effective National Youth Service policy in Zimbabwe.

Data for this paper was gathered through: documents review; consultative meetings; key informant interviews; focus group discussions observation during consultative workshops and focus group discussions. Data was analysed according to categories/themes of information gathered.

The findings highlight the fact that the strength of the programme lie in the fact that the programme is provided for by the law; that there is a policy guiding the programme; that the objectives of the programme are clearly stated; that the programme itself is a noble one; that the programme is linked to job opportunities in the public service and that it offers life skills training. Weaknesses cited by respondents include the following: that the language used is subject to manipulation; that recruitment was done through district party (ZANU PF) office; that the curriculum discriminated against the marginalized and other interest groups; thatthere was a militarized style of running the programme; allegations of sexual and drug abuse and that the programme was under funded which led to the elite shunning it; that the training was not targeted and the absence of exit opportunities.

Due to the experiences discussed above, the following major recommendations are made: There is need for the adoption of the African Youth Charter definition of youth (15-35) when recruiting youth for NYS. NYS, as a national programme should be publicized, with outreaches done for the wider community to appreciate its value.

A multi sectoral approach needs to be adopted where all sectors of society focus on and actively support (financially and otherwise) the implementation of the NYSP.

There is need to constitute an independent commission should facilitate the delivery of the curriculum with guidance from the two ministries of education. Professional experts are supposed to be identified by the commission to design and deliver the publicly accepted curriculum with input coming from young people and other stakeholders.

There is need for exit opportunities for graduates. NYS should have an implementation and monitoring and evaluation plan. There is also need for mainstreaming and institutionalising NYS and extending the ambit of youth and community service so that all interested young people, including the marginalised and other interest groups have the opportunity to serve.

NYS needs to be voluntary for some time until a conducive environment and political will permits the programme to be compulsory.

There is need to make funding available to ensure that the programme is successful in terms of what it is supposed to achieve. Proper and adequate infrastructure has to be developed for effective implementation of the programme. There is also need to introduce productive activities such as agriculture at training centres which will ensure supply of produce as well as income for the camp.

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