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What is happening with programmes for the nation’s youth?


Fri, Nov 28, 2014

Editor: It is unbelievable but not surprising, the degrading role of the Youth Affairs Division within the Ministry of National Mobilization, over the past three years or so. This year 2014 has been the worst. No programmes organized for the nation’s youth. Those which exist are treated with scant regard by the present staff at the division and also the Minister and, by extension, the Cabinet.{{more}}

The 4H movement is dormant; the Men as Partners Programme seems to be disappearing within some one of the churches which decided to take it up; the Block programme has lost its momentum; the community outreach programme lost its way, as none of the officers do community outreach anymore. The youth policy development and the Youth Foundation seem to have taken a back seat for all in the Ministry, including the Cabinet, as persons’ focus right now is to elevate themselves to positions of being in control.

The only programme in operation right now is the YES programme, which gives youths an opportunity to be exposed for employment and in the meantime gain valuable work experiences. It may be, however, fair to say that not even this programme is run by the Youth Affairs Division staff. Of late, persons will register at the office; the name is then sent to the Permanent Secretary according to constituency listing, which is then forwarded to the ULP parliamentarians and caretakers. The names are then discussed among constituency council representatives for selection before being returned to the Minister or Permanent Secretary. The selected names are then sent to the Youth Office. What a time for youth development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

What was really unbelievable was when the Division held a function at the end of October to mark the 10th anniversary of the Youth Office being in Rose Place. What a laugh and a slap in the face of the nation’s youth who are struggling for education, proper nutrition, parental guidance, employment, safer communities and role models.

October is normally celebrated as Youth Month in St Vincent and the Grenadines, with the highlight being the National Youth Awards. This is a time which a number of youths look forward to for recognition of their positive efforts, be it in sports, education, culture, agriculture, community development or business. This year, there was none and no explanation nor apology was given.

It is important that this institution functions and functions to the fullest. It took years of lobbying by youths, under the umbrella of the National Youth Council and others, to realize this division in 1985. So, what should really be celebrated is the years of existence of this division in the ever changing lives and development of youths of St Vincent and the Grenadines. If the present staff does not recognize that the existence is what has allowed them to be employed in the field today, then they should do some serious research and recollection while they pursue their “degree” in youth development work.

Our youths are facing too much negativity today for us to be celebrating a building they can’t even call their own. The role models they should be looking to are constantly sending a message of “wrong could be rewarded as right,” once you are of a particular grouping. Please policy makers, youth workers, social workers, magistrates, church leaders and all who interact with our youths, let right be right and wrong be wrong regardless of what or who.

By the way, the week of 3rd to 9th November was celebrated as “Youth Workers Week” by the Commonwealth, but did we hear anything about that from the Division? Lord help us.

Youth Worker