You are on page 1of 2

 

Jamaica  Youth  Advocacy  Network’s  Response  


to  the  Call  for  the  Youth  Portfolio  to  be  
removed  from  the  Ministry  of  Youth,  Sports    &  
Culture  to  the  Ministry  of  Education  
 
 
The   Jamaica   Youth   Advocacy   Network   (JYAN)   has   prepared   the   following   statement   in   lieu  
of   the   arguments   ventilated   by   Mr.   Ryan   Small,   Chairman,   National   Youth   Council,   Miss  
Ruth   Lawrence,   Jamaica   Youth   Ambassador   to   the   United   Nations,   Mr.   Andre   Stephens,  
National  Youth  Parliament,  Mr.  Jeffrey  Brown,  Youth  Parliamentary  Watch  Committee  and  
Jovaughn  Neil,  President,  UWI  Mona  Guild  of  Students  for  the  Minister  of  Youth,  Sports  &  
Culture,  Hon.  Olivia  Grange,  to  be  relieved  of  the  youth  portfolio  and  the  responsibility  be  
placed  in  the  purview  of  the  Ministry  of  Education.  JYAN  wishes  to  advise  of  the  following:      
 
1. JYAN   believes   that   the   concerns   about   leadership   and   management   of   the   youth  
portfolio  as  highlighted  by  the  youth  leaders  at  the  Gleaner  Editor’s  Forum  are  real  
challenges   that   have   and   continue   to   impede   on   the   work   of   youth  
leaders/advocates/activists  island-­‐wide.    
 
For   example,   the   National   Secondary   Students'   Council   (NSSC)   no   longer   has   its  
workshops   to   train   persons   in   advocacy   and   equip   student   leaders   with   the   skills  
needed  to  hold  administrators  at  secondary  schools  accountable.    
 
In  addition,  this  is  the  United  Nations  International  Year  of  Youth  and  we  are  yet  to  
see   a   plan   that   will   guide   efforts   to   mainstream   young   people   in   development  
activities  as  crucial  stakeholders  to  human  and  social  development.    
 
2. In  JYAN’s  view  the  call  represents  a  desperate  attempt  by  our  youth  to  feel  a  sense  
of  belonging  and  to  come  under  some  kind  of  direction/leadership.     The  call  is  not  
unfair  (even  if  we  may  not  agree  on  the  strategy  employed)  and  should  serve  as  an  
eye  opener  if  anything  to  the  Jamaican  Government.      
 
3. In   JYAN’s   observation,   Minister   Grange,   although   she   has   declares   on   several  
occasions   that   the   youth   portfolio   responsibilities   has   been   entrusted   to  
Parliamentary  Secretary,  Senator  Warren  Newby,  has  not  done  enough  for  the  youth  
portfolio.  JYAN  wish  to  remind  the  Minister  that  it  is  her  responsibility  and  not  the  
Senator  
 
4. Notwithstanding,   the   Minister   alone   or   even   Senator   Newby   cannot   be   held  
culpable.     The   National   Centre   for   Youth   Development   (NCYD)   under   the   leadership  
of   Mrs.   Roberta   Brown-­‐Ellis,   which   has   responsibility   for   youth   development,  
particularly   building   the   capacity   of   hundreds   of   youth   in   and   out   of   school   to  
advocate  their  needs  must  also  be  held  accountable.  The  NCYD,  which  also  houses  
the   Kingston   Youth   Information   Centre   (YIC),   should   show   more   leadership   and  
assist  the  nations  youth  in  lobbying  and  representing  our  needs  far  better.    
 
5. JYAN   strongly   believes   that   whether   the   youth   portfolio   exchanges   hands   from  
Minister   Grange/Senator   Newby   to   Minister   Holness,   or   any   other   person   for   that  
matter,   the   structural   political   exigencies   that   impinge   on   youth   development   in  
Jamaica  would  still  have  not  been  addressed.    

JYAN  is  a  premier  youth-­‐led  advocacy  programmes  and  training  organisation  addressing,  inter  alia,  issues  of  
sexual  and  reproductive  health  and  rights;  education  and  human  rights.  
 

 
This  would  not  be  a  practical  move  given  that  Senator  Newby  has  cited  the  lack  of  
financial   resources   and   high   turnover   as   two   of   the   challenges   that   impedes   their  
work.    
 
Furthermore,  the  question  of  availability  of  resources  is  also  of  concern  and  is  here  
being   made   the   villain   for   inaction   on   the   part   of   the   Government.     While   JYAN  
understands   the   impact   the   global   recession   has   had   on   the   economy,   it   is   not   a  
plausible   defense   or   reason   -­‐   if   in   fact   the   youth   who   represent   about   half   the  
population   are   key   to   nation   building   and   policy   development.     In   as   much   the   same  
way  we  can  prioritize  for  other  matters  of  national  importance  the  same  principle  
can  be  applied  to  the  design  and  execution  of  policy  and  programmes  for  youth.  
 
Leaders  are  not  elected  to  complain  about  a  problem,  they  are  there  to  fix  them  or  
ameliorate  the  prevailing  conditions.  Development  has  always  been  about  utilizing  
scarce  resources  efficiently.  Scarcity  is  not  an  excuse  for  ineptitude.    
 
6. Finally,   JYAN   has   no   position   on   the   call   to   move   the   portfolio   to   any   other  
Ministry  or  Minister  as  this  would  in  no  way  address  the  problems  that  have  
been  raised.    
 
JYAN  recommends  that  
 
1. There   should   be   a   thorough  assessment  of   the   Youth   Portfolio   from   the   Office   of  
the  Prime  Minister  through  the  Ministry  of  Youth,  Sports  &  Culture  to  determine  the  
deficiencies   cited   by   the   youth   leaders   and   develop   suitable/realistic   measures   in  
moving  forward;    
 
2. The  Government  prove  where  in  terms  of  policy  and  programmes  they  have  made  
attempts  or  even  had  successes  since  they  have  been  in  power;  
 
3. Youth   leaders   (cited   above)   do   an   assessment   of   the   opportunities   (whether  
perceived   or   real)   that   may   or   may   not   exist   at   the   Ministry   of   Education   for   the  
Government  to  support  their  recommendation    
 
4. The   media   (both   print   and   electronic)   engage   youth   leaders   in   open   and   frank  
discussions  to  constructively  deal  with  the  issues  raised.    
 
For  further  information  contact  Jaevion  Nelson,  Director  of  Advocacy,  Policy  &  International  
Affairs   at   459   3211   or   jaevion@j-­‐yan.org   /   Kemesha   Kelly   –   Programme   Officer   with  
responsibility  for  the  Jamaica  Youth  Advocacy  &  Participatory  Initiative  (JYAPI)  at  856  5660.  

JYAN  is  a  premier  youth-­‐led  advocacy  programmes  and  training  organisation  addressing,  inter  alia,  issues  of  
sexual  and  reproductive  health  and  rights;  education  and  human  rights.