KINGSTON — Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange says youth development is critical to the growth of Jamaica, and as such, the advancement and improvement of the lives of young persons must be at the forefront of the country’s development strategy.
“It is the energy of the youth that will drive the nation, and it is their hopes and aspirations that must define our goal as a people,” the Minister said.
Miss Grange was addressing young persons attending the West Kingston Youth Council Conference, held at the Tivoli Gardens Community Centre, on April 7.
The Minister pointed out that young persons make up a large segment of the population, with the statistics showing that 53.6 per cent of Jamaica’s population was under the age of 30, and 17 per cent in the 15 to 24 age group.
She said the Government’s vision is to ensure that each young person, regardless of his or her background or circumstances, is afforded the opportunity to live a healthy, safe and happy life.
“You must get support to be healthy, to be safe, to be responsible, to make positive contributions to society, to enjoy a good quality of life and to enjoy your youth,” she told the young people.
Miss Grange informed them of the numerous opportunities available for their development, including those offered by the National Youth Service (NYS).
She also encouraged them to enroll in the agency’s Summer Employment Programme, which is currently accepting applications.
The NYS Summer Employment Programme is an annual project that provides employment for some 4,000 student’s islandwide during the summer holidays.
“We want to ensure that more young people get a chance to participate in that programme,” the Minister said, noting that it caters to students from Fourth to Sixth forms and persons attending tertiary institutions, with employment provided during July and August.
She further said the Youth Entrepreneurship Programme is also being given increased attention by the Ministry, which is now working to develop youth business incubators.
Miss Grange said the Ministry is in the process of developing a national youth entrepreneurship strategy through the Youth Business Trust, as well as working to establish resource desks at each National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD) office. She noted that a youth satellite centre would be established in West Kingston, so the service would also be accessible to the young persons of that area.
“The programme is designed to encourage school leavers at the high school and tertiary level, who have a passion to operate their own business,” she said, explaining that the programme is open to young people between 18 and 25 years of age, who are unemployed.
The programme was first announced by Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding during the 2009/2010 Budget Debate in the House.
In the meantime, Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness encouraged the young people to make use of the educational opportunities afforded them at this time, as it is at this stage that they are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to become successful citizens.
“The purpose of education is to help you self actualise – to give you enough knowledge and skills for you to fulfill your purpose in life,” he said.
Mr. Holness told the young people that one crucial function of education is to help to create what is called the ‘reasonable man’. “The ‘reasonable man’ is the man who understands the law, is able to rationalise his decisions in such a way that he keeps the law,” he said.
He explained that the reason most societies invest heavily in education and in developing schools, is to ensure that they encourage each citizen to become a fulfilled and successful law abiding person.
Mr. Holness therefore encouraged the young people to take advantage of what they are taught in school and to begin thinking seriously about their career goals.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter