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Prime Minister Engages Eswatini Youth in an Economic Recovery Symposium

When given the chance to meet His Excellency the Prime Minister of Eswatini, 22 year old Nonhlanhla Maziya from Siteki in the Lubombo region, saw it as an opportunity for raising concerns of young people with disabilities in Eswatini.

“My wish is to see people with disabilities given equal opportunities as others,” Nonhlanhla said. “The ‘norm’ of excluding those with disabilities in development activities pushes them further behind. If we are not involved, no one will raise our challenges and it will be like we do not exist in society.”

Nonhlanhla is a Form 4 pupil at the School for the Deaf. She has a hearing and speech impairment. However she doesn’t let her disability to deter her from reaching her full potential. She dreams of becoming a nurse, a profession through which she could take care of other people with disabilities.

Maziya made a presentation on social protection and inclusion during the Prime Minister’s dialogue with adolescents organised by Junior Achievement Eswatini on the 4th of September 2020. The event, themed Inclusion of young entrepreneurs in the economic recovery road of Eswatini, enabled pupils from selected high schools to share their views with legislators on areas such as work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.

In his remarks, His Excellency Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini mentioned that for Eswatini to realise meaningful development, programmes for youth should be prioritised.

“Young people are very important, they are the future,” said the Premier. “The government various programmes, put in place to encourage youth to rise to the challenge. We expect their innovations and ideas to take us forward.”

According to Margaret Thwala-Tembe UNFPA Head of Office, the scourge of excluding youth in economic activities has negative effects on the youth and the country.

“Providing financial and technical to support adolescents and youth who, are in the process of building networks and organizations to advocate for their human rights is important. The inclusion of youth from diverse backgrounds and identities, particularly the disadvantaged and marginalized, should be prioritized.”

Thwala-Tembe further urged for improved support for the youth she described as drivers for activities for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals as, “investing in education, health and livelihoods, and in organizations, initiatives and partnerships led by youth, will be critical to achieving every one of these goals.”

Putting emphasis on the need for exposing youth to entrepreurship opportunities, Junior Achievement Executive Director, Phetsile Masilela said,

“Junior Achievement understand the importance of the voice of the child. Therefore, we seek to make our programs for children as inclusive as possible.”

These efforts are in line with what Board Chairperson Nokukhanya Gamedze explained as the organisation’s mandate; instilling entrepreneurship at young age.

Other young people who spoke on the day include Thandazile Mamba of Mhlatane High school; who spoke on educational reforms such as introducing Technical and Vocational Education (TVET) in all primary schools as well as the introduction of national job shadowing and internship programmes. Mamba saw these as fit initiatives for addressing youth unemployment currently at 47.7% in the country.

For Andile Simelane, a KOBWE High School pupil, bridging the digital divide is crucial.

“For youth to participate fully, they need access to information and that can be achieved by removing the internet accessibility barrier. This can ensure that youth in rural areas are not left behind,” Simelane concluded.