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FEATURE: Youth Day: A new generation does its part

EWN multimedia reporter Sethembiso Zulu spent a week in and around Gauteng to find members of the COVID-19 brigade and celebrate them as South Africa marks the 44th anniversary of the Soweto student uprising in 1976.

28-year-old Neo Matsobane from Thokoza in Ekurhuleni has been selected as a member of government's youth brigades programme. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Young, unemployed people in Gauteng say they've joined government's youth brigades programme to ease the burden on parents and children as they try to recover from lost schooling.

The volunteers - who are struggling to find jobs - have joined the initiative to help with the enforcement of health and safety protocols in schools.

They’re hoping to extend the help beyond the three months allocated for the programme, which ends in August.

The disruption of schooling because of the lockdown has had a profound impact across South Africa, but there are those who’ve stepped up to help salvage the academic year.

In Gauteng, young people between the ages of 18 and 35 who have matric or other qualifications have been selected from thousands of applicants to join the Education Department's youth brigade.

With a stipend of R3,000 a month, the volunteers are not only being helped financially, but say this is for a greater purpose.

“I thought why not. I just thought I can do something since the country is in this pandemic,” said a volunteer.

“I wanted to help people since I was young so this is an opportunity for me,” explained another.

They say helping pupils and teachers is important.

“I try to help the government and our society, especially the kids, because this thing of them not going to school was starting to bother a lot of us,” said a volunteer.

“Also for the little ones, because the kids are so ignorant when it comes to COVID,” added another.

The Education Department initially planned to take in 7,000 unemployed young people, but later decided to increase this to 10,000.

More than 300,000 people applied for admission into the programme.

EWN multimedia reporter Sethembiso Zulu spent a week in and around Gauteng - from Soweto to Ratanda south - to find Gauteng-based members of the COVID-19 brigade and celebrate them as South Africa marks the 44th anniversary of the Soweto student uprising in 1976.

23-year-old Lungile Sikhosana from Ratanda, south of Heidelberg, says the reason she wanted to become a qualified automotive electrician is that women are not represented in this field.

28-year-old Sindiswa Mgobozi from Daveyton wants to be a prison warden one day. Mgobozi says she would motivate offenders in prison to change their lives for the better.

25-year-old Slindokuhle Nkosi from Orange Farm says when she was young, she always wanted to help people in need and this prompted her to study to become a social worker.

33-year-old Nkululeko Linda Pikoli from Soweto says he always wanted to study journalism.

33-year-old Ayanda Khumalo from Soweto – who would like to complete her BA degree in graphic design studies - says the R350 grant from the government does not even cover the cost of half the food she needs to survive.

28-year-old Neo Matsobane from Thokoza in Ekurhuleni says he wanted to become a soldier like his father. Matsobane believes that being healthy is the best thing to do for yourself.

29-year-old Nomalanga Mgobhozi from Daveyton in Ekurhuleni says she wants to become a chartered accountant and was motivated by seeing young black chartered accountants in South Africa.