JIS News

The government, the private sector and non-government organizations (NGOs) today (Feb. 1) reaffirmed their commitment to the social and economic upliftment of the nation’s youth with the signing of the Youth Inclusion Charters of Collaboration.
The signing, which took place at the offices of the Jamaica Exporter’s Association (JEF) on Ruthven Road, was facilitated by the Cabinet office, through the Jamaica Social Policy Evaluation Project (JASPEV) and signal commitments by key government agencies, NGO’s and private sector companies to improve the quality of service and the opportunities available to youth in the areas of police/youth relations, entrepreneurship, and continuing education.
Speaking at the event, State Minister for Education, Youth and Culture, Dr. Donald Rhodd said, “It (the signing of the charters) is being driven by our moral conviction to involve Jamaicans more in a genuine partnership in the process of transforming their lives, their communities and our country,” adding, “we will be empowered to achieve the requisite social and economic skills required to enjoy a better way of life consistent with the Millennium Development Goals”.
Describing the signing of the charters as a “fundamental” change that would seek to “break the back of exclusion of the youth”, Dr. Rhodd said that the commitment would signal government’s intention, through the JASPEV process, to make the involvement of citizens, a central part of how the government and other sectors of the society conducted business.
The JASPEV was commissioned by the government in 2001 to find new and innovative approaches and mechanisms to ensure that the people became an active part of identifying, shaping and implementing government policies.
“This will indeed propel the vision for Jamaica in 2015, of achieving a prosperous and dynamic Jamaica, which upholds the fulfillment of human rights, dignity for all persons and builds continual social progress based on shared values and the principles of partnerships,” Dr. Rhodd said, adding that this was seen as critical to the building of a more inclusive society, while supporting and complementing the efforts of local government reform and the poverty reduction programme.
Dr. Rhodd emphasized that the government recognized that in order for policies to be delivered effectively, there needed to be more joined-up arrangements and partnerships among the different sectors of the society, particularly, private sector, government and civil society.
He said that through the JASPEV, “we intend to institutionalize these processes as a means of building more effective government while maximizing all our human, financial and institutional resources.”
Dr. Rhodd said that it was not by chance that JASPEV had chosen to focus on youth inclusion as the first policy area to test these new mechanisms for citizen involvement. “Repeated studies have showed that youth are directly affected by social exclusion,” Dr. Rhodd stated, “this negatively impacts on our society in a number of ways including the high incidences of violence and delinquency, the increasing numbers of street children and the low levels of literacy and employment among youth.”
Through the JASPEV, he said, “the youth have spoken.we have met, we have sat days, months throughout the years with youth in 37 communities.they (the youth) have gone as far as collecting data for themselves, which they have used to define and prioritize the policy issues which are important to them”.
Dr. Rhodd told the gathering that the charters represented “the wishes of the nations youth and today we honour them through the partnerships which we will establish here.we are moving unapologetically toward action in the areas of entrepreneurship, continuing education and police youth relations, which all speak to the concerns straight from the youth themselves and which also represent some of the key factors currently affecting our nation”.
Each Charter outlines a collaborative plan to improve the quality of service provided to youth in the three key areas and represents a new driving force for the government to employ a joined-up approach to delivering good quality service in public sector institutions.
The key agencies under the Entrepreneurship charter are: the Jamaica Business Development Centre, the JEF, the Scientific Research Council, the Ministry of Industry and Tourism, the Self Start Fund, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority and the Jamaica Exporters Association.
Listed under the charter for Continuing Education, are: the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning (formerly JAMAL), the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, the HEART Trust NTA, Parenting Partners, the National Council on Drug Abuse, the Ministry of Health, the National Council on Education, and the Jamaica Library Service.
In addition, the key agencies for the Police/Youth Relations charter are: The Jamaica Constabulary Force (Community Relations), the Dispute Resolution Foundation, the Citizens Security and Justice Project, the Ministry of National Security, and the Social Development Commission.
Some 37 communities across the island will participate in the pilot project under each charter. The Jamaica Social Development Commission, which has played a key role in the JASPEV process, will facilitate a series of community engagement meetings in collaboration with the key agencies as a result of the signing of the charters.
The sessions will see youth from all pilot communities interfacing with agencies to come up with solutions and strategies toward improving services in the areas addressed. These sessions are in response to previous consultations that were held with the youth, in which poor police/youth relations, illiteracy and unemployment were identified as critical areas in need of attention.