KINGSTON — Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, says the Government will be acting on the findings of the Jamaica National Youth Survey (JNYS), noting that the results will not “sit on our desks or on the shelves."
She said given the importance of youth development and the significance of the report, the findings will be used to inform the government’s plans and programmes, and will be shared with key stakeholders nationally.
“Our youth are a critical resource for nation building and a significant segment of the overall population. The government of Jamaica, therefore, sees this as an important policy matter and we have taken steps to ensure that this is realised at all levels of our society,” she stated at a stakeholders workshop on Wednesday June 8 at the Wyndham Hotel in New Kingston, where a summary of the Survey’s findings was unveiled.
The $43 million JNYS was executed over a one-year period by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica in collaboration with the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD).
It formed part of the US$11 million Inter-American Development Bank/Government of Jamaica (IDB/GOJ) Youth Development Programme, which seeks to support activities aimed at strengthening the design and implementation of youth policies and facilitate the transition of unattached youth through training, on-the-job experience, information dissemination and labour intermediation services.
The research targeted young people, 15 to 24 years, and sought to provide a comparative analysis of the views of youths attached to households and those living on the streets.
In regards to education and training, the research found that 78 per cent of youths in households had achieved education up to the secondary level, compared to 60 per cent of street youths.
Whereas 55 per cent of youths in households said they had not passed an examination, 84 per cent of the street youths interviewed reported they had not passed any exams. Three quarters of street youths interviewed said they could read, however when tested, only 69 per cent were actually able to read a simple sentence in its entirety.
When asked, 30 per cent of youths in households in comparison to 16 per cent of street youths indicated that they had been trained for a job or occupation. The majority of street youths (44 per cent), who had received training, were trained as service workers and shop and market sales workers.
In terms of health and wellness, it was revealed that the use of drugs and inhalants was higher among street youths than those in households. While 83 per cent of youths in households had never tried marijuana, only 17 per cent of street youths had never tried it.
In addition, 74 per cent of youths in households were sexually active as opposed to 92 per cent of street youths. Condom use was high among both groups, at 83 per cent for street youths and 81 per cent for youths in households. A higher percentage of street youths (49 per cent) than youths in households (39 per cent) had been tested for HIV.
Minister Grange said the results of the survey will provide the Ministry with hard data to support “some of what was already documented anecdotally, as well as to bring new and focused insight on critical issues affecting youth”.
“It is important that we engage our youth effectively and meaningfully. They need to be centrally involved in decisions and programmes that affect them,” she stated.
She informed that four additional dissemination workshops will be held in Kingston, Mandeville, St. Ann and Montego Bay, and the final report will be made available to all key stakeholders.
Meanwhile, Miss Grange said as part of the IDB/GOJ programme, the government will be establishing five additional youth information centres across the island. “We’re mainstreaming youth development and we are professionalising the NCYD,” she added.
Also attending Wednesday’s stakeholder workshop were IDB Representative, Loretta Beal; Deputy Director, Social Policy and Planning, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Easton Williams; Director General, Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), Sonia Jackson; and members of the NCYD and youths attached to various groups and organisation.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter