Fellow Since 2006
South African Youth Ministers Programme
This profile was prepared when Allan Williams was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
Allan Williams has developed an innovative program that enables young people in South Africa to understand the governance model of their young democracy and actively and consistently participate in the democratic process. The program targets learners between 16 and 18 years old, modeling actual government ministries of the South African government in their schools. This allows youth to take charge of the social challenges that they face, participate more actively in partnership with school administrators in the daily affairs of their school, community and country, and most significantly the program offers unprecedented leadership opportunities. The effect is two-fold: the young people emerge empowered about their ability to shape their lives by understanding governance structures and process in South Africa; and through the development of leadership skills and practices they gain an advantage as they make life decisions and compete for opportunities and jobs. Allan designed the South Africa Youth Ministerial Project (SAYMP) so it would help revitalize student participation in all aspects of school affairs, from governance to curriculum development. The skills and outreach then extends into their communities’ and nation’s democratic processes. The program accomplishes this through its unique structure which mimics exactly the ministries of the South African government. Allan has been able to effectively leverage the government’s recent prioritization of more interactive learning methods, which had remained an empty promise due to a lack of effective models for implementation. With pilots in 15 schools, Allan envisions a school-based ministry in every South African school, overseen by a national governing body that would not only model but also provide insight and input to the national government.