THE Anglo American and Sowetan Young Communicators Awards are much more than a public speaking competition.

It is one of Anglo American's many corporate social responsibility projects and is among Sowetan and the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation's youth motivation activities.

Anglo American subsidiaries have also been playing a pivotal role as YCA provincial sponsors. These include Anglo Coal, Anglo Platinum, Anglo Zimele and Black Mountain.

In its 16th year running, this nation-building partnership project continues to play a major youth development role by giving South Africa's youth a platform from which to highlight concerns, opinions, fears, aspirations, possible solutions and just to ventilate.

The youthful Model United Nations South Africa (Munsa) runs public speaking workshops that also cover career guidance and life skills training for all the participants.

Senior officers of the nine provincial education departments serve as regional coordinators and help Munsa to deliver prepared speeches and panel discussions.

The officers, who were assisted by district officials, are Norman Fumba [Eastern Cape], Segomotso Mochoari [Free State], Peggy Manganye [Gauteng], Snegugu Mngoma [KwaZulu-Natal], Harold Takalo [Limpopo], Gerda Kuschke [Mpumalanga] Tumi Kgosiemang [North West], Thandi Dlekedla [Northern Cape] and Lennie Davids [Western Cape].

Parents, other guardians, subject advisers and teachers lend valuable support.

More than 60 workshops are run throughout South Africa by more than 50 Munsa facilitators, most of whom are university students.

They have assisted more than 10000 pupils in Grades 11 and 12. Teachers have also been empowered during these workshops.

So, while the nation toasts the top three winners, thousands of other youngsters are touched positively and encouraged to be the best they can be.

Professionals from the general and tertiary education sector, business and the media volunteer to serve as adjudicators to ensure that district and provincial eliminations are free and fair.

At the national finals the judges were Michelle Alexander of Michelle Alexander Communication, Ben Anderson of Da Vinci Institute, Talk Radio 702 host Udo Carelse, Chantal Cuddumbey of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Gustav Gous of the Professional Speakers Association, Sibusiso Khoza, Nwabisa Mayema and Julitte Morrow of Munsa, SABC television and radio news producer Portia Kobue, Kaya FM's Masechaba Moshoeshoe and Sudeshan Reddy of the UN.

They assessed the public speaking skills and talent of Bonolo Cebe [Eastern Cape], Leandre Buys [Limpopo], Kanyisile Vilakazi [Mpumalanga], Ndumiso Hadebe [Gauteng], Tsholofelo Sebolao [North West], Shanice Titus [Northern Cape], Alfesenzo Sethole [Free State], Mnelisi Gasa [KwaZulu-Natal] and Reatlehile Jankie [Western Cape].

The 2009 winner of the Young Communicators Award is Vilakazi and the runners-up are Jankie and Gasa. Vilakazi won a R30000 bursary and R10000 for the Lowveld High School.

Second-placed Jankie from Bloubergrant High School won a R20000 bursary and R7 000 for his school. Third-placed Gasa from Port Shepstone High School won a R15000 bursary and a R5000 for his school.

Gasa made the national finals two years in a row.

Anglo Base Metal safety and sustainable development head Dave Morris said the YCA is a trendsetting youth development programme that now boasts a Facebook chat and networking site and is aligned with the government's youth development agenda whose ideals are articulated by the National Youth Development Agency.

A big reunion of all the awards' former winnersat the national finals over the past 15 years is due to be launched soon.

Flowing from this get-together, a Young Communicators Awards alumni will be formed.