The revamping of the national programme to commemorate Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence was among the top priorities of the Ministry of Youth and Culture during the government’s first 100 days in office.
An Inter-Ministerial Committee, chaired by portfolio Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna, was set up to oversee the process, and included Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting; Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton; Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. A.J. Nicholson; Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Wykeham McNeil, and a representative from the Ministry of Finance and Planning.
The yearlong ‘Jamaica 50’ celebrations were launched by the previous administration in October 2011 with a budget of $2.5 billion.
On April 4, Minister Hanna announced that Cabinet had approved a revamped programme of activities budgeted at $688 million, with the private sector providing $194 million through sponsorship arrangements and the public sector close to $400 million, with $360 million of that sum going to the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).
Activities will be unfolded in coming weeks. “It is proposed that the campaign to kick off the celebratory period will begin in mid-April, highlighted by our Labour Day activities, which will see Jamaicans islandwide start preparing communities for the main celebratory period, August 1 to August 6,” Miss Hanna informed.
She said it is expected that the celebratory and commemorative activities and events, which have already begun and which will take place here in Jamaica as well as in the Diaspora, will generate an unprecedented level of patriotic commitment that will unite the country towards a national effort to develop and grow the economy.
The Ministry, in January, began a series of weekly youth forums at high schools and youth institutions. The sessions, which involve representatives from the National Centre for Youth Development (NYCD), are aimed at garnering the views and opinions of the nation’s young people, as the Ministry designs programmes and policies that are geared towards their development.
The first meeting, attended by about 150 youth leaders and representatives of Student’s Council and uniformed groups from St. Catherine was held at Eltham High School in St. Catherine.
Among the institutions and schools visited so far are Campion College, Kingston College, the National Youth Service (NYS) and the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force in Up Park Camp, Kingston.
The Ministry has also embarked on an assessment of youth plans and policies. Minister Hanna indicated that the revision of the current National Youth Policy (2004) will reflect the finding of last year’s youth survey and result in a comprehensive reflection of pertinent issues. The first draft of the revised policy document is scheduled for completion by March 2013.
On January 19, a contract was signed for the establishment of a Youth Information Centre and National Youth Service (NYS) training facilities under one roof in Spanish Town, St. Catherine.
Minister Hanna said the establishment of the joint facilities would assist in arresting some of the issues that confront young people such as lack of skills and qualifications and most importantly crime, noting that 75 per cent of crime is being committed by persons under 30 years old.
On April 3 a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Child Development Agency (CDA) and the University of Technology (UTech), whereby students will become investigating officers for the CDA, as well as act as councillors in children’s homes, following appropriate training.
Another MoU was signed between the Ministry and the PSOJ on April 4, for some 2,700 young people to benefit from education and training under the PSOJ’s Youth Upliftment Through Education and Training (YUTE) programme.
Still focused on youth development, the Ministry has solicited funds from the World Bank to host a major expo focusing on youth employment and entrepreneurship in the information, communication, and technology (ICT), which will take place at the end of June 2012.
Young people will take advantage of training in areas such as: graphic design, mobile applications development, and business development, among others. Additional ICT employment will be facilitated by micro work, crowd sourcing and other telecommuting options.