JIS News

The strategic plan, which was developed to guide the implementation of the revamped National Youth Policy, is set to go before Cabinet in May of this year.
Director of the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), Ohene Blake made this disclosure in a recent JIS News Interview.
Mr. Blake said the Plan, which has been ready for quite some time, had to undergo a series of consultations to ensure that it was accepted by the youth development sector.
“The consultations began in 2004 but what was envisioned in the beginning was that since we had undergone the consultation with the Policy, we would just roll straight into our strategic plan without further consultation. However, what came to light was that most of those consultations would have been done between 2001 and 2003 and at least half of the cohort would have moved out of the age group .that delayed the process,” Mr. Blake explained.
In addition to this the process was further delayed by the 2002 general elections, which saw several ministry portfolios being realigned.
“The shifting of portfolios meant we had to go through another round of consultations,” the NCYD Director pointed out.
In the meantime however, he said much had been done towards the implementation of some of the more defined objectives of the Policy with regard to youth participation and empowerment.
“Ten of the 12 strategic objectives under employment and participation, which is one of the six focal areas identified under the Policy, have been implemented,” Mr. Blake informed.
“We haven’t just simply waited. What we have done is began to implement some of the clear areas, such as participation and empowerment, as much of that falls under the purview of the National Centre for Youth Development and so we have pursued that vigorously. I don’t think we could have sat and waited because there are serious issues facing our young persons,” the NCYD Director said.
He noted that this was evidenced in the establishment of the National Youth Council, advocacy for a cultural policy, and a cultural curriculum. To this end, a new Culture Policy has been formulated and is to be put forward for Cabinet’s approval.
In the meantime the National Youth Parliament and the Jamaica Youth Ambassadors Programme have been established, while the facilitation of international youth exchange programmes, to ensure fair coverage for all priority groups in youth exchange opportunities, have been strengthened.
Further efforts have seen the revamping and institutionalization of the National Secondary Youth Council and the Jamaica Union of Tertiary Students, with increased financial support to uniformed groups such as, the Boy’s Scouts and Brigade, Girl Guide groups, the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Young Women’s Christian Association, which were objectives of the Youth Policy with regard to employment and participation.
“So I think that’s the focal area of the youth policy that has bolted out of the blocks the quickest because that falls under the NCYD,” Mr. Blake pointed out. In addition he said dialogue was ongoing with the Office of the Prime Minister to see the “appointment of young people to government Boards and the boards of statutory organizations and having the policy reflect what was agreed in the National Youth Policy where young people within the ages of 18-24 ought to be on every single government Board and committee dealing with the decision making of the nation”.
“We will be going into further dialogue with voluntary organizations that have Boards and committees set up, that they must include young persons. So I think we are well ahead on achieving those objectives,” the Director said.
He however expressed a desire to see more priority being given to “youth who are not benefiting from the education system, inclusive of teenage mothers, youth in institutional care or incarceration, as well as children from deep rural communities and farming communities in the drive to achieve a fulsome solution to the education system”.
In the meantime he had high commendations for the Policy, which he said unlike its 1994 predecessor had taken on “a life cycle approach to youth development”.
Mr. Blake said the Policy has been recognized worldwide as being at the cutting edge of youth development and that the life cycle approach was one of the reasons that it had been crafted as part of the development agenda. “So the life span of the Policy is for 2015 and we would expect to have an updated Policy in 2014,” he added.
“We have taken a long term view of youth development as opposed to the short-term view of the first policy. young people don’t wake up at age 15, so with all their issues. They have arrived at age 15 over a process of development during childhood and if you are going to effectively address the issues of the youth cohort you have to look carefully at what is happening in the child cohort because if you were to address it holistically all you would be doing is remedial work at age 15. to be very proactive you have to go to early childhood development,” he observed, noting that the issues had to be approached from the early childhood stage.
The National Youth Policy addresses issues such as: employment and entrepreneurship; youth health; education, training, care and protection; participation and empowerment and explores ways to provide young Jamaicans with opportunities to develop their full mental, social, spiritual and physical potential, through the provision of training programmes.
The accompanying strategic plan document specifies the plans for implementation of the Policy and will also focus on the priority areas for youth development, the cost of the activities, and the source of funding among other things.

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