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First report of the Portfolio Committee on Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation
Parliamentary Debates
March 31, 2004

MOTION
First report of the Portfolio Committee on Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation

MRS NYAUCHI: I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes notes of the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation on the National Youth Service Training Centres.

Preamble: Your Committee went on a tour of the National Youth Service Training Centres from the 27th to the 29th of October 2003. Centres were selected from three Provinces; these centres were Guyu, Mushagashe and Border Gezi.

Terms of Reference: Your Committee laid its terms of reference as follows:

  1. To assess the performance of the program of National Youth Service Training Centres.
  2. To appraise the recruitment criteria.
  3. To familiarise with the curriculum.

Witnesses: In the process of the inquiry, your Committee interviewed Officials from the following National Youth Service Training Centres: Guyu, Mushagashe and Border Gezi. Trainees from all three centres were also interviewed. Discussions were held with the Ministry of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation Officials.

This report will detail the findings of your Committee and at the end give recommendations.

Your Committee toured the Centres to ascertain the veracity of the negative reports but the National Youth Service Centres.

Trainees are recruited by the Ministry of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation through district and provincial offices.

The diet of the trainees does not reflect a balanced diet as there is no variety and in some cases, the amounts are inadequate.

Your Committee found that trainees have no training kit and uniform.

The living conditions of the trainees leave a lot to be desired especially at Guyu.

There is a problem with the provision of clean water especially at Guyu.

The curriculum seems to include topics that duplicate the work of the Vocational Training Centres and the material seem to be inadequate.

The girl child is not adequately provided for in terms of sanitary wear.

Some trainees at Mushangashe could not sit for their O level registered for because they do not provide adequate information.

Recruitment: Your Committee was informed by all interviewed that recruitment is not carried out by the training centres themselves. Each candidate voluntarily makes an application to the District Office and the application is then passed on to the provincial office. The provincial office then transmits the names to the Ministry of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation, who then place the trainees in the different training centres around the country.

Candidates must be between the age of fifteen (15) and thirty (30). Those still in secondary school are not accepted in the program. Candidates are required to undergo medical examination before they begin training. In the initial stages of the programme, it was found that some candidates were discovered to be pregnant because they did not go through medical examination.

Your Committee was told that trainees were informed that tracksuits, shorts training tennis shoes and toiletries were requirements to be brought to entry into the training centre.

The duration of training has been reduced from six months, because of financial constraints. During the training, the trainees do not leave the centres, however, they are allowed visitors.

Trainees Diet: Your Committee was aghast at the diet of the trainees at Guyu. The trainees informed your Committee that there is no variety in their diet. In the morning at 0630 hours they have cup of tea of porridge, for lunch they have sadza and beans, for supper it is the same. Management, informed your Committee that each meal weighs 200g, which was the standard measurement used by army and the police for their cadets. The trainees complained that the amounts were too little for their vigorous training. The trainees at Border Gezi also complained about lack of variety in their diet, however, they were happy with the amounts. At Mushagashe, the male trainees reported that sometimes they have tea with no bread in the morning and for lunch and supper, sadza and cabbage. At the Border Gezi, they have samp and beans for breakfast, sadza and beans or green vegetables or cabbage for lunch and the same for supper.

Your Committee noted with concern that the diet of trainees is inadequate in all centres, with Guyu being the worst. All the centres were talking about the possibility of acquiring land to begin projects that will supplement the diet of the trainees. Your Committee feels that such projects will go a long way to provide food for trainees.

Uniforms and Training Kit: Your Committee was shocked to learn that trainees do not have training kit. The first port of call was Guyu and the trainees there have shorts, which were the same design for both sexes. On a very cold day when your Committee toured Guyu, both male and female trainees had green cotton shorts and T-shirts. Some had jerseys or jackets, tucked into the shorts. The shorts were provided by Guyu. This attire is not suitable for girl trainees who complained about the shorts being too short. They were requesting longer shorts and tracksuits.

At Mushagashe and Border Gezi, the trainees wore their own clothes. No shorts or tennis shoes were provided by the centres. They cited shortage of funding as the cause of this. Here, the students also had either no shoes or slippers or worn out tennis shoes.

At the inception of National Youth Service, trainees were provided with uniforms at pass out. The centres are no longer able to provide uniforms for two reasons. Firstly, there are no funds to purchase uniforms for individuals. When current trainees pass out, they will do so on different dates, so that the same uniforms can be used for pass out parade by each centre. Secondly, it was reported that some people in society were using the uniforms to carry out criminal activities, thereby tarnishing the name of the centres. The centres have no control over students once they leave and therefore cannot control what happens to the uniform thereafter.

Living Conditions: Accommodation: Your Committee was distressed at the living conditions of the trainees at the Guyu Centre. Both the female and male barracks, have no doors. The roof on one of the male dormitories was blown off by the wind, and it has not been repaired. Your Committee toured the toilets and found them very dirty and a health hazard to trainees. The barracks at Mushagashe and Border Gezi were found more habitable.

Water: The water for Guyu is a cause for concern to your Committee. The drinking water is from a dam and is stored in a reservoir tank. Your Committee was confirmed that the water needs to be boiled first before use and the trainees indicated doubt as to whether the water is fit for human consumption. The authorities at the centre informed your Committee that the problem is that of old piping that cannot be replaced, because of shortage of funds.

The Guyu centre also has a garden with limited vegetables that are watered by flood irrigation using water from the sewer. This situation is cause for great concern because trainees could contact diseases.

Curriculum: Some of the topics covered in the curriculum include; Patriotism, Discipline, Political History of Zimbabwe, Democracy, Culture, Religion, Gender, Entrepreneurship, National orientation, Disaster Management, Technical Skills, National Resources Management, Health Service, Art, Survival Skills. Your Committee is of considered opinion that there is too much being offered at such a short time. It is its feeling that the Ministry should draft a core course for the trainees, to make it more focused and more effective. Making the course long and complicated is counter productive, because of the mixture in trainees. Some have a high level of education and others are just about literate. Your Committee, however, commends the NYS training for the course of entrepreneurship. It would seem, however, that there is duplication of work with Vocational Training Centres doing the same. NYS should have a clearly spelt out goal and this will eliminate the duplication of duties factor.

Your Committee was also disappointed that there are no teaching modules for trainees and no hand-outs. There are also no set textbooks that are used, which means that the different centres may not necessarily be teaching the same materials.

It was of great concern to your Committee that there do not seem to be any set of qualifications for trainers/lecturers/for the NYS curriculum. Each centre had a different level of qualifications for instructors.

Welfare of the girl child: Your Committee wanted to ascertain for itself the girl safety and well being of girl child at the institution. Your Committee questioned instructors and students on whether girls have heard, seen or experienced molestation either from instructors or from other trainees and the answer was negative. The girls at Guyu and Border Gezi have their barracks fenced off and heavily guarded by security especially at night. They have to be in the barracks by 6 p.m. and no males are allowed into their barracks. Mushagashe has no fence, however, the rules are strict and the girls barracks are also just as heavily guarded. The girls were interviewed in all three centres and they all satisfied that they are all safe and treated equally with the boys, but they are protected. Your committee noted with concern that the girl child in the NYS institutions lack adequate sanitary wear. Border Gezi and Mushagashe are better supplied, however, your Committee is anxious that the girl child be supplied with adequate sanitary wear.

Trainees Supplementing O Levels: Your Committee was intensely disturbed to learn that there were trainees who have registered for O levels but there was a possibility that could not write. Mushagashe had 40 boys and 11 girls who could not sit for their O levels. The reason given were that, they left their homes before they received their statements of entry. They were unable to go back home to get them because this is against NYS policy. Trainees only go back home in case of emergency in the family. The students were adamant that they had registered, however, the instructors were also adamant the students could not prove that they had registered and hence would not write. Your Committee suggested that the trainees make an arrangement for them to sit for their exams and the trainees informed your Committee that if the NYS allowed them to sit they were not registered with ZIMSEC, even those registered were not going to receive their results.

Recommendations:

  1. Trainees be provided with proper training kit.
  2. Uniforms should be used at Pass Out and then kept at District offices where they can be recovered each time they are required for state functions.
  3. All students supplementing their O levels must be allowed to write at the nearest ZIMSEC centres.
  4. Female trainees must be given adequate sanitary wear.
  5. Trainees should be given adequate food because they under go rigorous training.
  6. The curriculum should be the same in all NYS Training Centres.
  7. Trainers should have the same level of qualifications in all NYS training Centres.

Conclusion: Your Committee concluded that NYS Training can be of value to the Zimbabwean Youth if planned more carefully and resources are made available for the effective implementation of the training. If living conditions are improved for the trainees and the curriculum is made more focused, this programme can achieve great results with your youth.

Read the contributions made by Members of Parliament in the House.

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