SONDELA – From Economic Turmoil to Accountability, our Valued Citizens Learners propose solutions to government!

Grade 9-11 learners participating in the Sondela Dialogue programme supported by the National Department of Arts and Culture and the Gauteng Speaker’s Forum were anxiously awaiting the upcoming Budget Speech by Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, following the State of the Nation Address by President Jacob Zuma and the economic turmoil South Africa faces.

Our 178 Valued Citizens learners from Westonaria, Olivenhoutbosch, Forte, TM Letlhake, Randfontein High schools have been vibrant during the Sondela Dialogues raising their concerns about corruption paralysing our country. Our learners engaged – “As citizens we are not victims, we should stop echoing one another, and rather be the voice taking responsibility for our words and actions!” stated learners from Forte and Randfontein High Schools.

Our Valued Citizens learners are proposing a Financial Progress Report Speech to be conducted quarterly to enable citizens and Members of Parliament to engage about the spending and the financial reporting of government for accountability to prevail.

Minister Pravin Gordhan stated in his Overview of the Budget “As in the past, we have sought advice from citizens. This year, I sought budget pointers on several specific things: What does government do well? What should we stop doing? How can we achieve inclusive growth?”

During their Sondela Dialogues, learners highlighted how reporting back to the nation and all stakeholders on the Nation Budget and its financial expenditures quarterly will develop openness, accountability and trust so many companies and citizens are looking for to build the South African economy.

Transparency is non-negotiable like accountability so “As Valued Citizens, we also need to condemn the tendency of destroying and burning public properties during protests. It is time as Valued Citizens youth that we explain to communities how we take pride in belonging to a school and how our education is key for our country to have the relevant skills it needs”.

Our youth represent 18.6 million – under the age of 18 years – and therefore constitute 36% of the total population of South Africa (Statistics SA Survey 2012). We have stopped listening to our youth, and therefore, are failing to really understand their dreams and we are possibly ignoring their frustrations – this has the potential to result in anarchy. History is about telling the story of the past, it is time we create a common future – our belief is, with SONDELA, to generate new symbols through dialogue and art. Our aim is to develop the youth as responsible valued citizens engaging with our democracy, abiding by the rule of law and consciously constructing social cohesion.

Based in five provinces, Valued Citizens Initiative is citizenry empowerment promoting constitutional values and leadership principles through three pillars - educators, social workers and parents - developing our youth into responsible valued individuals engaging with our democracy and contributing towards the South African economy.

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