Youths to cobble together development ideas
Stabroek News
November 30, 2006

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Youths from all over the country yesterday gathered at a two-day workshop to give their views on how a youth development and empowerment programme could cater for their needs.

The workshop is being funded by a grant from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and brought together youth representatives from all political, religious and civil society groups.

"We don't want to create a programme based on our own ideas, we want you to tell us your challenges, your needs and we want you to be the main stakeholder of the programme so we can assure its sustenance," IDB resident representative Sergio Varas Olea told the youths at the opening of the design of the programme at the Tower Hotel.

He said the bank was assisting at the request of Government with a view to targeting specific needs so investments would be worthwhile.

Multi-sectoral specialist attached to the IDB Rosario Londono is team leader for the project and informed the youths of the important role of their participation.

She said "everyone has great ideas but only those who materialize those ideas have taken the process a step further but we have not done many programmes like this €¦ in the region and so you have a distinct advantage."

"The Government of Guyana is the first government in the Caribbean to be integrated into a youth development loan and so other countries will be looking to see what Guyana did," she urged participants.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony delivered the feature address and urged the youths to, "understand each other's views, be open and realistic and together you could formulate recommendations with a cross- fertilization of ideas."

He said yesterday's consultations would help government develop a five-year strategic plan for youth development.

"We [the government] need your advice so we could develop a strategic plan for youths countrywide for the next five years and also we need your advice so maybe we could go back and see if our National Youth Policy, which was crafted since in the early 90's, is still relevant in terms of the context we are now living in," he told participants.

The minister said the National Youth Policy has been operable for over 12 years but there may be weaknesses that could be strengthened.

"So I am looking forward to seeing recommendations, so we could look at the document and revise it."

Additionally, he pointed out that in order for the policy to be fully implemented, a National Strategic Plan must be crafted.

"We need to set ourselves a different target and vision and work toward delivering this and so we are consulting with you for you to share your views on what you think could be the elements of this plan.

"We want to get to the root of the problems which youths are experiencing, not what others perceive it to be, but what you are experiencing," the minister added.

The workshop concludes today and is a collaborative effort among the IDB and the Ministries of Culture, Youth and Sport, Human Services and Social Security and Education.

Today's session will see a presentation from the youths on their proposals for development of young people across the country.

A centrepiece of the previous PPP/C government's empowerment plan for youths was the President's Youth Choice Initiative which funded dozens of projects countrywide for hundreds of millions of dollars. Many of these projects foundered or failed to live up to expectations.

There was no discussion of this project yesterday.