JIS News

Minister of Education Hon. Andrew Holness, has said that the Government is serious about addressing the problem of youth at risk, especially as it relates to young males, who are the main victims and perpetrators of crime.
The Minister, who was addressing the Regional Caribbean Conference on Keeping Boys out of Risk, on Tuesday (May 5) at the Rose Hall Resort in St. James, noted that a number of social intervention programmes are being implemented by the Government with a view to changing the “at risk” status of many young males.
“I think that more and more, the policy makers and the politicians are beginning to understand that if we do not arrest the problem, it is going to become so entrenched, that we will begin to lose the value of the male human resource to the society,” he stated.
According to the Education Minister, much of the crime in Jamaica is driven by youth at risk, with the majority of the offenders being boys, which is consistent with the trend within the wider Caribbean and Latin America.
He noted that Jamaica’s problem is compounded by the fact that the school system turns out approximately 38,000 students every year, who, due to underperformance, will not be able to matriculate to higher education. “This is a flow, every year, that creates a stock of approximately 200,000 youth at risk,” he pointed out.
He said that in addressing the situation, the school system must become more relevant to young males, while social intervention programmes must be engineered to capture the large grouping of unattached youth, the majority of whom are also males. He also pointed to the importance of proper parenting in the effort.
Meanwhile, Country Director with the World Bank, Yvonne Tsikata, stated that youth development is necessary to increase economic growth, reduce poverty and inequality, “and improve the well being of this generation and future generations in Latin America and the Caribbean”.
She said that her institution “looks forward to strengthening partnerships with countries of the region, and to make greater and smarter investments in the youth population, which represents the future of the countries of the region”.
The World Bank estimates that of the approximately 100 million young people in Latin America and the Caribbean, more than half are considered as youth at risk, with the majority of that number being boys.
According to the World Bank, young people are at risk, if the environment that they face is such that it does not allow for their personal development and successful integration into the society, of which they are a part.
The three-day conference, which concludes today (May 7) is organised by the World Bank and the Commonwealth Secretariat.