JASPEV Facilitating Involvement of Civil Society in Social Policy Development


More government entities are responding positively to recommendations made by civil society and private sector groups, particularly as they relate to social policy development.
The process of feedback is being facilitated by the Jamaica Social Policy Evaluation (JASPEV) Project, which was implemented in 2002 under the theme, ‘Getting citizens involved for the best results’.
Speaking at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, Project Co-ordinator, Charmaine Nelson, said that JASPEV has created opportunities for civil society to be involved at all levels of the policy development process.
The project promotes how public agencies operate to make them more responsive to customers’ needs and serves to complement the on-going initiatives directed by public sector reform.
Explaining further, JASPEV Communication Specialist, Keron Morris said that the key principle of participation and consultation was mainstreamed through the youth inclusion prototype, where young people were allowed to express their concerns. The three areas for policy attention, he outlined, were entrepreneurship, continuing education and police-youth relations.
Subsequently, agencies such as the Ministry of National Security, the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC), the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ), the Scientific Research Council (SRC), and the 4-H clubs have been responding positively to the recommendations made in consultations.
According to the Youth Inclusion Prototype Co-ordinator, Steadman Noble, the Ministry of National Security, in particular, has made tremendous strides through the Police-Youth relations thrust, where police personnel visited war-torn communities as part of the ‘Come mek we reason series’, to discuss issues affecting both parties.
“The response to views expressed by young people demonstrates the willingness of government to challenge the top-down approach of the traditional bureaucracy and has created new spaces where members of society can have a genuine voice and opportunity to contribute to the national goals and outcomes,” said Mr. Morris.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Nelson confirmed that the use of the Jamaica 2015 framework document for Social Policy continued to break new ground in the government’s monitoring and evaluation systems, specifically as this related to tracking national goals involving civil society and private sector groups.
“We have been specifically focusing on social policy. In fact, JASPEV is guided by the Jamaica 2015 document which is a framework and action plan for improving effectiveness, collaboration and accountability in the delivery of social policy,” she pointed out.
Guidelines for consultations with the public are now in place through a Consultation Code as the Jamaica 2015 document is based on consultations, which took place with citizens across the island over a one year period. Government encourages such participation as the inclusion of voices and perspectives will assist with the creation of policies, plans, programmes and services that are more responsive to all and promote greater equity across the society.
Consultations to date have revealed that there are a number of areas that need to be improved by the public sector.
The views expressed by civil society, Mrs. Nelson said, were that the public sector needed to consult and listen to the public; needed to overcome ‘turfism’ and find joined-up solutions to problems. In addition, there was the need to assess results of policies and programmes. However, through responsive service delivery, these areas are being monitored, evaluated and improved.
Since its implementation in 2002, JASPEV has significantly advanced a more participatory and inclusive approach to the policy process and the operations of the government. The process has involved thousands of citizens in their communities, representing every social stratum, with an emphasis on the issues of the poor.
Mrs. Nelson noted that JASPEV was implementing elements of the Jamaica 2015 action plan as the document outlined “what it is that we need to do, to arrive at improved effectiveness, collaboration and accountability in the delivery of social policy”.
The vision for Jamaican in 2015, another outcome of the consultations, is for 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 principles of partnership.”

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