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Vincentian youth development 2009

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The creative and extreme experimental peculiarities of youth will always place us in an advantageous position to define social change. It is also because of the dynamic and relatively revolutionary nature of our circumstances why some commentators classify our youth as a vulnerable group. But we are as vulnerable a group as we allow ourselves to be. A St. Vincent and the Grenadines in which every young person has a chance to succeed through personal hard work describes our present reality. What is absent in most instances is the necessary will to fight to succeed.{{more}} This will take a deep-seated effort from within for us to make the difference.

The vision which advances a better society for our young people must always include a vigorous and calculative approach at outlining a series of policies, legislative and programmatic interventions that will advance the youth cause. The vision of the Government for our youth is to create an expansive development programme that will make it possible for every young Vincentian to eagerly and enthusiastically participate in national development. This is the common thread which flows through every governmental department and Ministry.

Every young patriotic Vincentian must feel both chastened and challenged by the verdict that there is a dire need for an exceptional cadre of multi talented youth who will be able not only to govern their personal lives, but the future of the sub-region in our case the OECS, the region – CARICOM, with an intention to have a chance to change the world. This will always be a perfect point of departure if we are to analyse the role of our youth in national development as we seek to reposition ourselves to face the challenges of 2009.

Have you ever considered what the next generation of organizers, principals, planners, arrangers, policy makers and managers would be like? With about forty days remaining in this year, it is correct to say that the year is coming to an end. As we approach this period, our young people must take this opportunity to begin to refocus and plan for 2009, so that we can structure our work plans for the New Year to ensure that our future circumstances do not take us by surprise.

This administration has strategically implemented a series of policies to ensure that the future of our country, of which our youth will have to take charge, will never drift into the abyss of poverty.

Our challenge is clear. It is to accumulate and sustain self and community growth, national development, and to pursue such ambitiously whilst remaining aware that we are operating within a regional framework and a globalized world. In so doing, we must address the critical issues facing our young people. These include, but are not limited to, a need for the careful management of the transition that our youth will have to make when moving from institutions of learning into the job market; incidences of marginalisation whether imposed by self or society; inequality of income distribution; youth work ethic and productivity and the youth’s response to Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) with an emphasis on HIV. It is necessary in this environment for us to promote fiscal prudence so that we will create solutions which will be able to effectively bridge the divide between generations. This sort of planning will ensure that our youth will be able to fully participate in our nation’s development today and even more actively in the future.

Tourism has become the main engine of growth in the economy. With many of our students pursuing studies in the field of tourism and greater expenditure in this sector by Government, we can anticipate that this sector will be extremely attractive to our youth. Hence the following should be our focus as we emphasise youth involvement in such an important sector:

1. Expanding youth participation, investment and ownership directly and indirectly in the tourism sector, particularly through forms of formal and informal education;

2. The youth must create and continuously improve the quality of the tourism experience and product;

3. The youth’s perception and attitude towards tourism must reflect a keener interest in the development of the sector;

4. Our youth must feature prominently in our efforts to project a unique identity for St. Vincent and the Grenadines in traditional and non-traditional tourism markets;

5. Policy makers must ensure that the youth are encouraged to participate in an incentive driven programme to take full advantage of the national initiative to advance our tourism product.

In the area of agriculture any effort to trigger a revitalisation of this sector must be a heavily youth focussed initiative. The Government has done a lot of work and continue its efforts to rekindle confidence among our farmers. We have to continue to encourage the interest of our youth by giving them the confidence to participate in this sector, since we must use this sector to establish a platform for greater social mobility within our rural communities with the overarching interest to promote food security for our population.

It is without doubt that our efforts to revitalise our agriculture sector operates within the framework of challenges on the world trade market. Our current efforts are intended to bring about various forms of modernisation in agriculture services and facilities intended to be more attractive to our youth. The good work must continue!

In education, in the space of the last seven (7) years, there has been exhibited one of the most structured forms of planning ever exhibited in the history of this country as it relates to the education of our young people. The legacy that was inherited was one marred by a deficiency in planning for the medium and long term. This piecemeal approach to the development of Education advocated in the past has been rightfully set aside. Today the approach is to have a selection of programmes and projects that are essential elements of a well-thought-out development strategy.

In an attempt to establish new economic space for our youth, there is a need for our urban and rural community based organisations to assist in setting up the requisite framework within which our youth can obtain maximum fulfilment. It is only so that we will be able to satisfy the need to raise the skills and knowledge of our population. It is further necessary for us to continue to give urgent attention to skills enhancement as well as to the allocation of resources to technical and vocational training for those who are outside of the formal education system. Our community based organisations must be further assisted in their efforts to build capacity.

When we speak of the continued efforts to deliver to our youth, we must also ensure that they are continually invited to be a part of the process. Hence current trends which reveal a policy to engage young people at all levels must continue. The institutional and implementation capacity of the government to deliver to our youth must, therefore, be constantly remodelled to meet our ever changing needs. The question of delivery is one which falls in the domain of each public servant to work strategically in the coming year. Our young public servants must also work harder to ensure that the public maintains confidence in our ability to deliver. All public servants must, therefore, undergo a period of introspection. Emerging from this exercise, we must strengthen our institutions and the legal framework within which they operate so as to remove the administrative and operational bottlenecks that impede government’s facilitation of our development trust. Hence, of primary concern is the need to enhance the public service as a key delivery machinery.

We must improve our capacity for implementation, as all our best plans will come to naught if we cannot convert them into reality. I can assure us that the continued creation of new economic space and opportunities for young people will allow Kingstown to be positioned as a major commercial centre within the Caribbean, and in particular the Southern Caribbean in the not too distant future.

Saboto Caesar is a Lawyer and Unity Labour Party Senator.

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