Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, has hailed the Obra Youth Initiative as a timely and effective programme, that will provide suitable information and opportunities for the country’s youth population.
Obra is a Latin American and Caribbean two-year initiative launched in 2009 by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Youth Foundation (IYF). It is aimed at improving the education and employment prospects of underserved youth throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.
It is also geared at ensuring that young people at risk have improved access to services and programmes needed to prepare them for citizenship, work and life.
Minister Grange said the two-year project was an important one for Jamaica, as its objectives were in line with the Government’s developmental goals for the country’s young people.
“As the Minister of Youth, I welcome this Obra initiative in Jamaica and I must commend the USAID for this initiative,” Miss Grange said today (April 13), while speaking at the Obra Partnership Caribbean Learning and Launch Event, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel, in New Kingston.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange (left), speaking at the opening session of the Obra Partnership Caribbean Learning and Launch Event, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel, in New Kingston, today (April 13). At right is Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Dr. Karen Hilliard.
The workshop and launch is being held from April 12 -14, and is hosted by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the IYF, in partnership with USAID.
The Minister said not only will Obra help to strengthen the strong bonds and deep ties that the countries of the region share, but it will also present opportunities for youth development.
“As a Government, we take youth development very seriously, as more than half our population is under 30 and a significant percentage of Jamaicans is between the ages of 15 and 24,” she informed. “Ours is a youthful population and that is why this Government has made the strategic move to position youth at the centre of all our development programmes,” she added.
Additionally, she said the Ministry recently launched the country’s first ever youth survey, which is aimed at providing a “unique insight into the minds of our young people.”
Miss Grange said that at the end of the survey, it is expected that the Government will have a clearer picture of the economic, social, physical, spiritual, educational and political situation of Jamaica’s youth. The results of the study, the Minister noted, will form part of the foundation for the revision of the National Youth Policy.
Co-ordinated by the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), the survey is being conducted by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) and funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
In the meantime, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator of USAID’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, Miss Janet Ballantyne, said Obra was responding to the President of United States, Barack Obama’s call for hemispheric partnership, by creating effective alliances among public, private and civil society actors to expand programmes and services that address the urgent needs of at-risk young people throughout the region.
Expected outcomes of the programme include the establishment of multi-sectoral partnerships mobilised to support youth at risk; the formation of programmes that will ensure that the youth are more prepared and productively engaged; and ensuring that youth-at-risk policies and programmes are better informed.