Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, said that the Government is committed to putting systems and programmes in place to foster the advancement of the country's youth as a key part of the national development process.
She said that the focus on youth development remains a top priority despite severe financial constraints.
“The Government has been honest with the people. Things are tough, and as a consequence, we have to tighten our belts. In all this, I still expect impatience on the part of many youth. I understand it and value their critiques,” she said.
Minister Grange was speaking on January 23 at the Prime Minister's Youth Awards for Excellence held on the lawns of Jamaica House, where she responded to media reports that youth groups felt that more needs to be done in their interest.
Miss Grange assured the young people in attendance that their concerns have not fallen on deaf ears and that the Government was making progress with youth development programmes.
She noted for example, that Youth Information Centres (YIC) are being set up across the island by the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), so that young people could have access to computers, the Internet, referral services, empowerment sessions, entrepreneurship programmes and training opportunities.
“So far, we have opened six Youth Information Centres and more on the way. Four will be opened this year and two more in 2012,” she informed.
She stated that the NCYD, through the Ministry, has been supporting youth organisations by facilitating training sessions in leadership in youth clubs. “The aim is to get the youth off the street corners and keep them out of trouble,” she pointed out.
Additionally, she said, young people are being given the opportunity to participate in Government at the highest level through the establishment of the National Parliamentary Watch Committee.
“Through the Committee, the youth themselves review bills before parliament to ensure that youth perspectives are included. We have given youth a greater say in national affairs than ever before,” Minister Grange stated.
CONTACT: E. HARTMAN RECKORD