Youth and Culture Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna, has highlighted the need to address the status of the nation's youth, within the context of their role in national development.
Speaking at the recent launch of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Club movement in Jamaica, at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in Mandeville, Manchester, Ms. Hanna argued a lot of the challenges facing the youth, is related to how they “see their positioning and their role in this country”.
She lamented emerging research and statistics on young people, particularly relating to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, illicit sexual behavior, as well as “character formation” data, which she said were not only “disheartening”, but getting to the point where, “as young people, many of…you are destroying your potential for the future".
"So, while it is that we seek to create jobs and opportunities and all these other things that we are supposed to do for you…in a lot of ways, we have to get you…on a mission to make this country productive for the next 10, 15, 20 years, and beyond,” she stated.
Minister Hanna said that the UNESCO Clubs can play a pivotal role in realizing this vision.
"It helps to spearhead cultural projects, scientific projects, (and) educational projects and while you might see it only as a club, what you are doing is positioning yourselves, locally, regionally and internationally…to create for yourselves, opportunities that expand way beyond Jamaica,” she stated.
She noted further that if young people could develop an awareness of the importance of valuing self, culture, and education, and encourage others to do the same, “you will recognize that there is an explosion that will take place where people transform their minds around the idea that culture and cultural industries are critical…(for) a country to go forward (over) the next couple of years”.
First established in Japan in 1947, UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations have proven to be very valuable partners for the organization, through their shared commitment to the entity’s ideals and work which they have assisted in translating, on the ground.
Club members, who are volunteers, include persons of all ages and nationalities from every walk of life, and are well placed to present the views of civil society to decision makers.
Currently, UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations are active in more than 80 countries globally.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter