JIS News

The establishment of a National Youth Council to further empower young Jamaicans, will be the central focus of the inaugural National Youth Conference to be held at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville on Tuesday, November 30.
State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, Dr. Donald Rhodd told JIS News that the aim was to have the National Youth Council function as an umbrella organization for all youth groups in Jamaica, such as the 4-H Clubs, Police Youth Clubs, Service Clubs, Church groups, as well as Political youth groups.
“This Council will serve as a single voice for all these major youth groups,” he explained.
“The Conference will create an environment in which young people can come together and express a commitment towards unity. We will also be looking at the development of a document that will stipulate how they will function; whether at the parish or regional level,” he added.
Among the possibilities is the establishment of parish youth organizations, a process that has already begun through the use of a previous Social Development Commission (SDC) model, in which all groups within each parish would become part of a unit.
“We are not going to impose anything, so we want to hear from them. There are several ways in which we could seek to establish the Council, so we need to hear what they want,” Dr. Rhodd said.
The fundamental thing is that, we want young people to come together and recognize that they have some common views. The Council will help to break down some of the divisions, as, in order to move this country forward, young people need to unite,” he added.
Dr. Rhodd noted that some of the major societal problems, such as crime and violence, unemployment and poverty, could be resolved if young people work together and articulate solutions on a common platform.
In recent years, Jamaica has been putting greater emphasis on the empowerment of youth, equipping young people with the knowledge, skills and competencies to manipulate their environment. The promotion of youth empowerment has increased dramatically in recognition of the importance of youth to the development of any nation.
Empowerment is a process, and is achieved in part through participation in activities that allow for learning and skills development. Youth participation is thus concerned with allowing young people to act on their own behalf.
Active participation in a variety of settings and activities builds self-esteem and commitment to the future. Therefore, it is very important to provide spaces and opportunities for young persons to participate, as part of their physical, mental and psychological preparation for citizenship. “The Jamaica Social Policy Evaluation (JASPEV) has been doing this to an extent through the youth inclusion prototype. We have already seen young persons articulating view points which don’t necessarily coincide with their seniors, demonstrating that they want a new path,” Dr. Rhodd said.
More than 300 young people from various youth groups islandwide are expected to attend tomorrow’s Conference, which begins at 10:00 a.m.