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  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, says the Government is committed to ensuring that the country’s youth are given the best opportunity to realise their fullest potential, through education and training, and other means.
  • The Prime Minister’s commitment came in a speech read by St. Andrew Technical High School student, Aaliyah Smith, at the Commonwealth Day Youth Empowerment Forum held this morning (March 9), at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.
  • Commonwealth Day 2015 was observed under the theme: ‘A Young Commonwealth’.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, says the Government is committed to ensuring that the country’s youth are given the best opportunity to realise their fullest potential, through education and training, and other means.

“It is imperative that our young people are encouraged to become active, productive and responsible members of their communities and are provided with the requisite tools and opportunities to shape their destiny,” she said.

The Prime Minister’s commitment came in a speech read by St. Andrew Technical High School student, Aaliyah Smith, at the Commonwealth Day Youth Empowerment Forum held this morning (March 9), at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.

Commonwealth Day 2015 was observed under the theme: ‘A Young Commonwealth’.

Mrs. Simpson Milller, in endorsing the focus on the youth, said young people comprise more than half of the population in the Commonwealth and play a fundamental role in building their nations and the Commonwealth. “Indeed, the young people who are helping to shape the Commonwealth of today will lead the Commonwealth of tomorrow,” she noted.

“We endorse and support the six focus areas identified by the United Nations as essential for youth development – dignity, people, prosperity, our planet, justice and partnerships. In fact, the Government has been keen to ensure that the youth are well represented at the level of multi-sectoral national dialogue and action, such as, in our National Partnership for Transformation. It is therefore heartening that the Commonwealth places young people at the core of its activities,” she said.

The Prime Minister said Jamaica is honoured to have been selected as one of the focus countries by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, which has identified youth leadership in the Commonwealth as one of its primary areas of emphasis.

 

“The Government of Jamaica shares the Trust’s commitment to the training and equipping of young people for employment, encouraging enterprise and skills development and helping youth to influence policy and decision-making. If we are to achieve the prosperous future that we envision, the world must reflect the needs and aspirations of our young people,” she pointed out.

She noted further that the ongoing deliberations on the post-2015 development agenda provide an excellent opportunity to influence the future for the benefit of the youth, adding that “we must therefore seize the opportunity”.

“Certainly, Commonwealth Day 2015 is a call for us to commit anew to advancing the welfare of the youth. It is a clear recognition that the realisation of their hopes and dreams is intricately linked to the sustainable development and prosperity of the nations of the Commonwealth,” the Prime Minister said.

In his address, Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Hon. Michael Peart, commended the work of the Commonwealth Parliament Agency (CPA) in promoting a deeper understanding of the values of the Commonwealth, particularly the advancement of democracy.

“The association seeks to build an informed parliamentary community able to deepen the Commonwealth’s democratic commitment and to further co-operation among its parliaments and legislatures… The CPA’s support of Commonwealth Day activities such as this one underlines its commitment to promoting the ideals of the Commonwealth and the important role that the youth of today will play in shaping the society of tomorrow” he noted.

Commonwealth Day, which is commemorated annually on the second Monday in March, is an opportunity to promote understanding on global issues, international co-operation and Commonwealth values, as well as the work of Commonwealth organisations. It is celebrated by young people, schools, communities and civil society groups.

The discussion forum focused on the participation of the youth in achieving the goal of sustainable development in the post-2015 era and highlighted the capacity, contributions and potential of young people in six areas identified by the United Nations as essential to development.

Featured were panellists and exhibitors from government, academia, and private sector entities, who highlighted the work being undertaken by young people in diverse industries . Exhibitors included the Caribbean Maritime Institute; Northern Caribbean University; No Brand Chemicals; Forestry Department and Bees Unlimited.

The forum also facilitated an opportunity for students to interact with persons in various fields of government and industry to discuss the future prospects of the Commonwealth.