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2010-2020: More opportunties for our youth

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2010 is finally here! The last year of this decade is upon us, and many of our young people are at far different stages in their lives today than they were when they closed the last decade. In 1999, on the eve of the last decade, I was a student proudly wearing my green and white at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College, and so were many my age.{{more}}

I have since seen classmates become scientists, agriculturalists and pastors; villagers leaving for colleges and universities across the globe in droves; we now boast of two Rhodes Scholars and many other scholars are in the making; young people are being placed in positions with great national responsibility; and we have excelled at sports and so many more.

As a people we have seen sufficient to know that life is filled with challenges, but that these same challenges can be creatively turned into opportunities, and such opportunities into great successes.

The year 2009 was not without its many challenges. The phrases “global economic downturn”; “financial crisis” and “meltdown” became almost a new tongue around the region. CLICO and British American Insurance were constantly highlighted for scrutiny in the court of public opinion. There was a general fall out in tourism regionally as the global recession continued to grind the economies of our major tourist markets to a halt. Strong feelings on issues of rapid climate change were ventilated, and last among many, but by no means least, further trade preference erosion, impacting negatively on our banana industry were some of the not so good news that we received as we closed 09. However, amidst the global uncertainties of 2009, the government and people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines must be highly commended for keeping the nation’s business together.

It is in this context that I challenge the Vincentian youth to appreciate the need to have a deeper understanding of the unique characteristics and opportunities of our local economy verses the global economy, and to identify the specific roles and obligations of the government and in so doing explore the important concept of individual responsibility.

We are living in an era where a revolution in education is unfolding before our very eyes. This new dispensation stands directly opposite to many past half hearted attempts conducted with little vision. As we strive for perpetual success, I wish all our students the very best in all areas and fields of study. Our young people must make our nation proud in 2010!

It is no surprise that the construction of an international airport on national soil has long been a Vincentian dream. Over the years, successive governments have fiddled with the idea, but seemed to have been intimidated by the size, and cost, of such a project in a country in which flat land is a scarce commodity. It has taken the courage and boldness of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and his cabinet to take the plunge and actually embark on this massive task and maintain a renewed focus. How are our young people preparing themselves to make the best of the opportunities which will be created when an international airport is completed? What new businesses will be established by our young people who will be using this facility to reach the world? Simply, as young people, how are we going to ensure that an international airport is an enhancement to our choices?

Similarly, the Buccament Bay Project, which started as a 100-room cabana project on about 26 acres of land, has delightfully mushroomed into a 1,000 room, US$250 million project, with a host of specialties. How are our young people positioning and repositioning themselves to make the most of these opportunities which will be created?

In 2010, we must continue to pursue a relentless search for positive youth development. Volunteerism, academic excellence, and an improved work ethic should be the hallmarks of modernizing our outlook as young people in relation to self development and nation building. Positive youth development is as a result of an intentional process that promotes positive outcomes for our young people by providing opportunities, relationships and the support to fully participate. Youth development is far too important to the advancement of our people to be left to chance. Hence, there is a need for more young persons to become actively involved in charting their future. The process of positive youth development begins with you!

In a world of rising cost of living, and global threats to food security in varying respects, we have sought to conduct our business with a sense of distinction here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, unmatched by attempts and circumstances which seek only to lead us into regression. Our steadfastness must be continued in the New Year. In the year 2010, we must continue to keep the flag of progress flying high in our nation. God’s blessings, and may we all have a blessed New Year. Prudence and vigilance are prerequisites for our survival as young people in the period 2010 and beyond.

Saboto Caesar is a Lawyer and Unity Labour Party Senator, now serving as Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture etc.

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