Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, is encouraging more young Jamaicans to join the cadet corps.
She said that the corps equips young people, especially those who are unattached, with discipline and training, so that they can become productive members of society.
"If you know anyone out there, whether in society or at school, who is looking for an opportunity to excel, to understand patriotism, to understand discipline, to have a sense of purpose while at the same time, getting training, encourage them to become a cadet,” she said.
"For every young person, systematic diligent training in discipline is important and we have to find a way, especially where our at-risk or unattached youths are concerned,” she added.
Minister Hanna was speaking on February 23 at a youth forum held at the headquarters of the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force (JCCF) at Up Park Camp in Kingston.
Earlier, the Minister was led on a tour of the facilities by Commandant of the JCCF, Col. Lemuel Lindo and Deputy Commandant, Lt. Col. Errol Johnson, to get a firsthand look at the operations. She observed foot-drill demonstrations by the cadets, led by Lance Corporal Okeemo Facey, and listened to a musical item by the JCCF band.
Addressing the cadets, she said the JCCF has a good programme in place, which she has witnessed in several high schools, including St. Jago High in St. Catherine; and St. Mary’s College in St. Mary and the Ministry is committed to getting more young people to enlist.
“Right now, what I am trying to identify is how to get more young people trained, how to get more young people off the streets and where you would have an integrated approach, so we could have a more positive impact on our youths,” she said.
The Minister said that she had received a plan from the Commandant to meet the organisation's needs and “it is just a matter of identifying how to make it actually happen but I have gotten some suggestions so far."
In an interview with JIS News, Col. Lindo said a critical need of the JCCF is adult leadership. He said the organisation has embarked on a drive at universities in an effort to find leaders to work with the young cadets. Currently, the force has a membership of some 3,000 cadets in 72 high schools across the island.
"The limiting factor is the leadership of the units. There’s no point having the units and you do not have the adult leadership because the kids will go astray and they will not get quality instructions for which the force have been historically known,” Col. Lindo pointed out.
He explained that the objective is to have a unit in every high school and central units in main towns for young people, who are unable to get into high schools, but who have reached the age to join the force.
The JCCF is a voluntary youth organisation sponsored by the government. It operates three main units – infantry, marine and aeronautics.
By E. Hartman Reckord, JIS PRO