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The Government of Jamaica has signed a J$4.95 million contract with Caribbean Electric Company Limited for the establishment of a Youth Information Centre (YIC), in St James.
The contract forms part of the government’s move to implement the flagship youth development programme, Operation Phoenix, which was launched by Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson in July 2003.
The signing took place yesterday (June 27), between officials of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture and Caribbean Electric at the Ministry’s Heroes Circle Offices.
Director of the National Centre for Youth Development (NYCD), Ohene Blake, informed that the establishment of the Centre in St James would be the fourth of its kind and came as a result of an impact assessment carried out on the Centres in St Mary and Portmore, by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF). The survey, Mr. Blake said, had showed impressive usage of the two centres by the youth.
He noted that between July 2003 and April 2005, approximately 17,319 persons had used the Portmore YIC while some 6,382 persons had utilized theSt. Mary YIC since its establishment in November 2003. In addition construction is underway for the establishment of a Centre in Portland.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, Dr. Donald Rhodd, hailed the signing as a historic moment in the government’s drive to target the approximately 140,000 “unattached” youth across the country and establish YICs in every parish.
He noted that Operation Phoenix was only a holding programme as the government sought to implement the National Youth Policy, which was in its final stages. Dr. Rhodd also revealed that the National Strategic Plan dealing with youth was completed and would be discussed in his Sectoral Debate presentation on June 28.
The St. James YIC will also serve the parishes of Hanover and Trelawny until Centres are established in those parishes. The centre will be the focal point for the dissemination of information on youth issues and programmes including educational training opportunities and information on HIV/AIDS. The Centre will provide free access to the Internet and other features such as fax and photocopying machines.
Quantity Surveyor for the Ministry, Andrew Reid explained that work is set to begin within the next three weeks and should be completed by September.
The YICs are carried out by the NCYD under Operation Phoenix to address the critical needs of Jamaica youth.