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Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, Dr. Donald Rhodd, has expressed confidence in the National Youth Policy, noting that the document provided a “holistic approach towards dealing with the challenges facing our young people.”
The State Minister, who was addressing a post Sectoral press conference at the National Centre for Youth Development’s (NCYD), Caenwood Centre today (June 29), said the document represented the government’s most detailed approach to date, to adequately deal with the issues affecting the country’s youth such as youth unemployment, crime, and the need for greater sexual awareness.
“This is the first time we are having this comprehensive approach because a lot of programmes have failed because in the past, they responded to specific things that arose from time to time,” Dr. Rhodd pointed out.
He said that the government, in implementing the policy, would be looking at multi-sectoral collaboration and cooperation. He noted that, there were a number of youth programmes and projects in different Ministries and agencies, and “what we are trying to say to the public is that we now need to partner with government agencies, private sector agencies, and non governmental organisations, and civil society in maximising the benefits from all these youth programmes.”
Dr. Rhodd revealed that the projected cost for the National Youth Policy, which would be implemented under a five-year National Strategic Development Plan, would be approximately $229 billion. He noted that while the figure was high, the cost to society for not implementing the policy, would be even greater.
“We are talking about what is existing in terms of youth in agriculture, youth in commerce, youth in industry, so you are talking about development programmes, training programmes, programmes in justice, and security, wherever you have a youth programme, we are going to be pulling all of that together, and focusing on one holistic approach,” he stated.
He told journalists, that the private sector had responded favourably to the policy, noting that they were cognisant of the fallouts if it was not implemented.
He informed that over the course of the last year, the National Youth Service had partnered extensively with the private sector in selling services, spending an estimated $23 million to train workers for such commercial enterprises such as Digicel, AT &T, and Courts.
“In all, we partnered with 168 private sector companies, so they recognise that a partnership is necessary and what we now need to do, is engage them in a broader way for them to understand that all the necessary social and economic challenges we will face in the near and distant future, depends on a total partnership of government, private sector and civil society,” Dr. Rhodd informed.
Meanwhile, Director for the NCYD, Ohene Blake, in noting the impact of the Youth Information Centres, said research indicated that, “95 per cent of the young persons [using the centre] indicated that in some significant way, their lives had been improved.” The study, which was conducted by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) last October, saw the YICs receiving ratings of 80 and 90 per cent in every aspect of the evaluation.
Currently, there are two YIC’s operating in he island; one in Portmore, St. Catherine and the other in St. Mary. Another is under construction in Portland, and a contract was recently signed to build a fourth in St. James.
The YICs provide youth with computer and Internet access to conduct research, and type documents such as projects and resumes. In addition, they function as resource centres for information about employment opportunities and promote sexual awareness.