Maendeleo National Youth Service (NYS) Project is a partnership between YouthBuild South Africa (YBSA) and Southern African Association of Youth Clubs (SAAYC). “Maendeleo” is a Swahili word which means progress and is part of the Presidential Youth Service Programme. It is one of the government programmes that are implemented as part of the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI) which was conceptualised to address youth unemployment in South Africa championed by the JOBS Fund. The Presidential Youth Employment Initiative is designed to support a spectrum of opportunities, focusing on job creation through public employment, job retention in vulnerable sectors, on direct support to livelihood strategies as well as on fast-tracking high-impact employment enablers. 

The Southern African Association of Youth Clubs (SAAYC) and YouthBuild South Africa (YBSA) were appointed by the JOBS Fund to implement the Maendeleo NYS project in all the nine provinces of South Africa. 

Through the project a national Pathway Management Network is being established to provide active support to the youth who are work-seekers and help unemployed young people to navigate their way into the economy. The network brings together a range of partners who provide support to youth entering the labour market with job opportunities, work experience, entrepreneurship and youth service in local communities.  

YBSA a is proud to have been involved with the PYEI NYS initiatives which support 3000 participants across all nine provinces in South Africa.  Kwa Zulu Natal is our biggest host province with a staggering 800 participants in areas such as Bergville, Colenso, Durban, Ladysmith, Newcastle.  In Mpumalanga Province, in a small rural town called Lochiel, we are actively involved in the following schools Masakhane Primary, Madzanga Primary, Sisukumile Secondary and Ntabanhle Primary. The youth volunteers plant vegetable gardens in schools and their produce are supplied to school feeding schemes, homes for the elderly and child-headed homes. 

Furthermore, the project supports learners who are struggling with their schoolwork. Early morning and afternoon classes are offered to primary school learners at the selected schools and additionally, there is an after-school programme for high school learners where they are assisted with their homework, research, and school projects. Learners with learning difficulties are offered support through one- on- one tutoring. 

In partnership with SAAYC throughout the nine provinces of South Africa more support programmes are offered to the youth such as sports & recreation, arts and culture, community clean up and tutoring in schools. Each of the 3000 youth volunteers who were recruited for this project spend a minimum of 54 hours a month in serving their respective communities. The project has had a positive impact and the impact is felt by the project participants, their families and the communities who are the direct beneficiaries of services rendered by the young people. We strongly believe that the project impact will also increase levels of patriotism among community members. In essence the project will respond to youth needs and issues using an integrated approach to youth development. 

YBSA prides itself to have been involved with this NYS project and its ultimate goal is to facilitate community-based learning opportunities and provide work opportunities for the NEET youth and assist them with setting clear livelihood paths for economic opportunities. One of our participants had this to say when asked about her experience: ‘I am grateful for this programme, as it has allowed me to grow and horn my skills especially computer skills as I am more involved in admin. This will help me in being more employable in the future. I am always eager to learn thus I grasp whatever knowledge I come across. I believe this is a great opportunity especially for the youth that has never been exposed to the work environment and also those that want to get some direction in terms of their career paths because this programme helps you in realizing your potential.’ 


The project has proven to be a great success as people’s lives are visibly changed. While the project links participants to different exit opportunities, it also highlights character building, supervised experience and carrying out of community service activities. Participants are then armed with a sense of independence which allows them to venture into entrepreneurship, formal employment or furthering their studies.