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KINGSTON — The Government will continue to collaborate with the United Nation’s International Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEF) to increase youth access to quality information, skills and services to reduce the risk of HIV infection in 2011/12.

The effort will be financed through an allocation of $16.7 million to the Youth Empowerment and Participation Programme in the 2011/12 Estimates of Expenditure, which the House of Representatives will start debating next Thursday.

The programme, a partnership between the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and UNICEF to increase access to quality information, skills and services to reduce the risk of HIV infection, includes establishment of Youth Information Centres (YICs) in St. Ann, St. Elizabeth, St. James and St. Thomas.

This financial year, the programme aims to complete construction work and installation of furniture and equipment, as well as adding utilities and security at YICs in St. Thomas and St. Elizabeth. The St. Ann YIC has already been completed.

The Government will be providing $7.7 million of the funds this year, while UNICEF will provide the other $ 9 million. The programme is scheduled to end in December, but could be extended to include the establishment of the YIC in St. James.

Another $35.4 million is to be spent this year on YICs in Manchester and Westmoreland, under the Youth Empowerment and Information Centre Establishment in Jamaica project, which is supported by the Korean International Corporation Agency. The objectives of that project are to encourage youth participation in positive social activities, and to improve their human resource capacity in the labour market.

So far construction work has been completed on the Manchester and Westmoreland YICs. It is expected that this financial year, payments for construction work, installation of furniture and equipment and security for the Centres will be finalised.

                                                           

By LATONYA LINTON, JIS Reporter