Youth Citizens Action Programme – Powered by Empowervate

Unisa’s Department of Communication Science wants to make a difference

The Youth Citizens Action Programme (YCAP) exists to empower learners throughout South Africa to become active citizens. They do this by inviting 40 schools in each province to participate in a national competition in which they are tasked with creating and implementing a social project of their choice to address problems in their school or community.

YCAP was established during 2009 following a series of youth dialogues focused on how learners could participate in creating solutions to problems they are facing. Mrs Amanda Blankfield-Koseff, an honours communication graduate of the Department of Communications Science, coordinated these dialogues in her role as marketing manager of non-profit organisation Afrika Tikkun. These dialogues were so powerful that Mrs Blankfield-Koseff launched the Empowervate Trust, the NGO which now implements YCAP.

Since YCAP was piloted in four provinces in 2010, numerous learners have acquired essential and empowering life skills through the YCAP toolkit which was designed to guide learners in developing active citizenship programmes in their schools.  For the past three years all nine provinces have taken part, with the endorsement and implementation support of the Department of Basic Education.

Each of the winning schools have benefited by receiving financial resources to expand the impact of the respective projects from the YCAP’s core funder, Deutsche Bank South Africa Foundation.

This year, DBSAF requested an evaluation of the effectiveness of the past four years of YCAP.

Current communications student, Miss Mapula Kataka, who is also an employee of DBSAF, under the leadership of Mrs Kirsten Koetsier, decided to approach her lecturers about this opportunity. Since Mrs Blankfield-Koseff is also a UNISA graduate, there were common links to UNISA’s Communication Science Department. After a successful exploratory meeting, Prof Charmaine du Plessis and Ms Ashiya Abdool-Satar of the department became involved with research project during 2013 and produced a report. The report demonstrated how learners and schools have benefitted, how projects have continued past the competition and how winning schools have made use of prize money. The success of this programme to date has strengthened ties between UNISA (particularly the Department of Communications Science), DBSAF and Empowervate’s YCAP Programme.

The YCAP project has now been registered as a community outreach programme at the university to assist with continuous research to help ensure that the programme achieves its much needed objectives.

“The Department of Communication Science is assisting Empowervate Trust’s YCAP as a registered community outreach programme involving research assistance. The Department is looking forward to working with YCAP in more research endeavours as the programme has a visible positive effect on learners and schools. We want to play a role in uplifting learners and schools,” Prof du Plessis and Mrs Abdool-Satar, who’ve been instrumental in this collaboration, explained.

“Through the Department of Communication Science’s research partnership, the Programme can develop and impact even more youth,” Mrs Blankfield-Koseff reiterated.

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