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Senator Newby responds to issues raised by Youth


Advocates
Kingston, January 23, 2010 - The Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of
Youth, Sports and Culture Senator Warren Newby, has given the following
statement on issues raised by Youth Advocates at a recent newspaper forum.

Senator’s Statement:
“The recently held Editor’s Forum by the Gleaner has raised several questions
about the policy, programmes and management of the youth portfolio, and the
commitment of Government to the development of youth in general. I crave
your indulgence to allow me space to respond to a few items raised by the
stakeholders at that forum, as well as to make general comments on Youth
Development work.

1. Firstly, the Ministry wishes to congratulate the Gleaner for the initiative,
and to commend the young people for their forthrightness and
outspokenness. We view this as representing the success of our Youth
Advocacy and Governance programmes that have created platforms from
which these stakeholders can advocate. The Youth Parliamentary Watch
Committee, the resuscitated National Youth Council, Union of Tertiary
Students and Youth Ambassadors Corps all represent areas in which
great effort has been placed to fulfill the mandates of the National Youth
Policy and the Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment.
The youth leaders have stated their concern that “Government will not
fund young people who are making noise against them…” I give them the
assurance that voicing their opinions in the appropriate manner is
welcomed as this Administration has worked hard to depoliticise youth
work and to give fair and uncensored access to all youth leaders.

2. Secondly, the youth advocates we have engaged are well aware that
principal responsibility for the management of the delivery of the
National Youth Policy and programmes has been given to me under the
supervision of the Honourable Minister. Much of the decisions relating to
the youth are driven by me and it is only fair that their grouses be levied
at me and not the Minister. Youth advocates also know that I have an
open door policy and therefore could have chosen to discuss and any
issues with me before an act of national publicity was taken. I take this
opportunity to remind all youth that my door is open.

Hon. Olivia Grange, Minister : Senator Warren Newby, Parliamentary Secretary


Mr. Robert Martin, Permanent Secretary (Acting) 1
Mr. Ryan Small, the newly elected Chairman of the National Youth Council,
remarks that the portfolio is not being managed properly; I find this
unfortunate. As Chairman he held his first meeting on Saturday, 14 January
2011, and is yet to meet with the leadership of the Ministry in his new capacity
to discuss the issues that are of importance to the Council. No plan of action,
budget or strategic objective has been communicated to the Ministry. No
meeting/consultation has been held, neither has he sought to engage, the
Minister or myself on any matter. His appreciation of the challenges would
therefore be constrained by the limited knowledge he possesses of the efforts
being undertaken.

Ms. Ruth Ann Lawrence’s assertion that Youth empowerment officers have not
been paid is baseless. There has been challenges with the payment of utility
bills owing to cash flow limitations, as the Government continues with its
aggressive programme of recovery from the global economic recession. The
Honourable Minister has been interfacing with the utility providers to provide
alternative solutions to the current difficulties.

Policies and Programmes Undertaken


3. Thirdly, the strategic direction of the Ministry has been driven by the
National Youth Policy of 2004, which commenced implementation in
2005, with a five year lifespan taking it to 2010. This policy was
developed through a consultative process, including the then Opposition
JLP. We decided in 2007 not to abort the policy but to continue it through
to its lifecycle (2005-2010) after which a national review would be
undertaken, with view to position the new policy. The review process has
commenced with:
A) a National Programmatic inventory, conducted buy the University of
the West Indies, to examine gaps and overlaps in the delivery of youth
programmes;
B) a National Youth Survey being conducted by the Statistical Institute of
Jamaica to examine the issues of access to opportunity, attitudes and
expectations of our youth population, among other things;
C) an Audit of Community-based Youth Organisations to ascertain their
relative strength, weakness, threats and opportunities to inform
government’s engagement of them in the youth development process.
This was conducted jointly by the Social Development Commission
and the National Centre for Youth Development at 600 youth clubs
island wide in 28 consultative sessions.

These initiatives form the empirical base for the new policy to be developed.
The process involves island wide consultations for the policy (2011-2016)
which will begin shortly.

Hon. Olivia Grange, Minister : Senator Warren Newby, Parliamentary Secretary


Mr. Robert Martin, Permanent Secretary (Acting) 2
Additionally, through the engagement of the international donor community,
we have been able to augment Government’s allocation to youth development
work. USAID is currently spending the largest budgetary allocation to youth
work in Jamaica of approximately US$3M. The Inter-American Development
Bank programme for youth development is spending what amounts to
approximately US$3M on the development of Youth Information Centres and
other support structures for the policy and the National Centre for Youth
Development. We have just completed the construction of two Youth
Information Centres funded by the Korean Agency for International Cooperation
(KOICA) to the tune of US$500,000.00. UNICEF, UNFPA, and the Canadian
International Development Agency (CIDA) have continued to provide valuable
financial and technical support to the Youth Development portfolio of which
benefit some of our youth leaders/advocates.

While these steps are being taken, and given the structure and complexities of
youth work, the Government’s has chosen to approach youth policy
development through what is called youth mainstreaming. This approach
engages all government and NGO entities to provide services for the
advancement of youth development according to their competencies, as
opposed to the centralisation of programmes targeting youth. Specifically,
areas dealing with health and wellness are managed by the Ministry of Health,
which runs a very successful Abstinence and Condom use campaign targeting
youth. Other initiatives include Child Justice Reform, of which the NCYD is a
critical stakeholder, run by the Ministry of Justice; training and re-socialisation
through the National Youth Service and the Heart Trust/NTA under the auspices
of the Ministry of Education; Entrepreneurial support through the Jamaica
Business Development Corporation and the Jamaica Youth Business Trust. The
reformed Youth Entrepreneurship Programme has also received capitalisation
support of J$20M from the Government.

Government’s Youth Focus


THE AGENDA FOR 2011-12 INVOLVES THE ROLL OUT OF MORE YOUTH
INFORMATION CENTRES; THE INTRODUCTION OF THE NATIONAL VALUE-
STREAMING THROUGH SPORTS PROGRAMME; STRENGTHENING OF THE YOUTH
ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAMME AND ADDITIONAL CAPITALISATION OF THE
JAMAICA YOUTH BUSINESS TRUST; AND DEEPER ENGAGEMENT OF THE YOUTH
AT THE COMMUNITY LEVEL, THROUGH THE NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL.

The Ministry will, in the course of the coming week, invite all the youth leaders
to a special meeting to discuss the issues raised with the hope of arriving at
amicable solutions to their issues. We remain committed to the process of
Youth Development given that or progress as a nation is anchored in our ability
to “empower young people with the means of creating and supporting the
enabling conditions under which young people can act on their own behalf, and
on their own terms, rather than at the direction of others”.”

Hon. Olivia Grange, Minister : Senator Warren Newby, Parliamentary Secretary


Mr. Robert Martin, Permanent Secretary (Acting) 3
END

Hon. Olivia Grange, Minister : Senator Warren Newby, Parliamentary Secretary


Mr. Robert Martin, Permanent Secretary (Acting) 4