In South Africa, the month of June is known as Youth Month. During this month National Parliament and provincial legislatures host sittings of the Youth Parliament.
The Youth Parliament offers young people of KwaZulu-Natal a chance to express their views; to debate issues that affect the youth in general, as well as any matters which affect the youth of KwaZulu-Natal in particular; to engage with real politicians; to engage with institutions and bodies dealing with youth issues and, most importantly, to receive training on how to behave as parliamentarians when a legislative sitting is in progress.
The Youth Parliament usually spans two days. Day 1 is dedicated to the training of young people on legislative procedures. Training is done by officials and Members of the KZN Legislature. Depending on the needs of participants, engagements with providers of services for young people and other agencies that have an interest in the views and needs of young people are arranged, as are engagements with provincial Members of the Executive Council.
The actual sitting takes place on Day 2, with participants debating a theme that had been selected in advance. Any person between the ages of 13 and 35 years, who resides in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, regardless of cultural, linguistic, socio-economic, religious and racial background, is allowed to participate in this forum.
However, it is important to note that when this initiative was first introduced, participation was limited to pupils from various schools. Sometime later there was a concern that out-of-school youths were not involved, and in 2003 participation was limited to out-of-school young people.
After the 2004 general elections, it was decided that the KwaZulu-Natal Youth Parliament should reflect the Provincial Legislature in terms of party representation, as well as terms of office and positions. This means that participants will serve a term of five years, except in extraordinary cases where a person dies or moves provinces. This was done to ensure continuity and accountability.