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Thaba Nchu - A graduate of the National Rural Youth Corps (Narysec), Colbert Mabasa, 29, has hailed the programme as a skills development hub, which creates invaluable job opportunities for the youth.

“My life has changed because of the construction and agricultural skills that I’ve acquired through the programme. I value this programme and I can see the difference the programme is making to young people’s lives, mostly in rural areas.

“I know how to build, plaster and make roofing. Before I started with this programme in 2010, I was unemployed and unskilled.

“Currently, I am building houses for people in my village. I’ve already registered my construction company and I’ve employed five local people,” he said on Tuesday.

Mabasa, from Mukhomi village near Malamulele in Limpopo, was speaking to SAnews ahead of the graduation ceremony of 6 000 Narysec participants at Thaba Nchu College of Education.

The Narysec graduate was also part of the group, which visited China recently to learn agricultural skills as part of the programme.

Mabasa, who runs a two-hectare garden where he plants vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and onions, sells his produce to local Shoprite and Pick ’n Pay stores.

“I’ve been sitting doing nothing at home since I matriculated in 2008, as there was no money for me to further my studies; my results were also not good. But now this programme has changed my life for the better and I’m always working very hard so that I can also change the lives of other young people in my village,” he said.

Wendy Tsotetsi, 35, from Emfuleni in Gauteng, has also seen the benefits of Narysec. “This is a very good initiative, which needs young people with a positive mind-set. Young people should stay out of the streets and grab opportunities like this one, which has been created by government to change their lives.”

Narysec was launched in 2011 with an initial 7 900 participants, of which 4 500 have completed training in various disciplines, mainly in the construction sector.

It is a four-year programme aimed at empowering rural youth from each of the 3 300 rural wards across the country.

The Narysec programme will complement the Rural Development and Land Reform Department’s job creation model, which targets and ensures that at least one person in each household in the rural areas -- where the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) is being piloted -- gets employed, and that such employment is linked to skills development.

Narysec’s main goal is to recruit and develop rural youth to be para-professionals, by training them to render the needed community services where they live.

Free State Premier Ace Magashule is expected to hand over the Thaba Nchu college to Rural Development Minister Gugile Nkwinti later this afternoon, so that it can be used as the headquarters of the Narysec programme. -