National youth policy consultations in phase two
Stabroek News
January 31, 2007

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Stakeholders yesterday started to fine-tune a number of initiatives to respond to the challenges and concerns facing the nation's youth while at the same time creating ways to ensure their participation in the country's development.

This is phase two of a consultative programme which is being supported by the Young American Business Trust (YABT), which was contracted by government and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to recommend a design for an overall policy and programme to address the specific needs of young people.

Local stakeholders including a number of youth organisations, and several government ministries are working along with the IDB to help define the programme.

The YABT has already submitted a list or preliminary recommendations for a five-year action plan, to the government and the IDB.

The recommendations are based on information culled from the first consultative workshop and after having scrutinizing all the ideas yesterday, stakeholders hope to have a more focused plan which would provoke responses at all levels.

Institutional technical advisor of the project Leila Paris told Stabroek News during yesterday's session that after this phase is completed, stakeholders should be able to acquire loans from IDB to fund the project.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony declared yesterday's session opened and urged active discussion and interaction and pointed out too that the new programme was geared toward empowering Guyanese youth and improving their entrepreneurial employment and leadership skills.

Draft recommendations

The YABT has already drafted a list of recommendations for a youth development five-year action plan. As part of this, the organisation has analyzed the 1992 draft youth policy in a bid to find deficiencies which should be avoided when drafting a new policy.

This policy, according to the YABT, failed to identify substantive and meaningful interventions that would provide for the integrative development and empowerment of Guyanese youth.

That organisation had also recognized a lack of strategic and board framework for designing and executing these types of youth interventions.

Among other observations was that the policy did not fully explain how youth were and would be engaged over the course of the policy planning, drafting, implementation, monitoring and evaluation stages.

In consultation with government on observations, the YABT in its preliminary document stated that the government and especially the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport believes it is important and timely for the citizens of Guyana to draft a new policy that avoids the deficiencies of the previous youth policy and adequately reflects the current realities of youth.

The preliminary document outlines issues raised by youth which they made known in the initial workshop session which include employment/entrepreneurship, education/training/skill development.

For each area identified, the document, which is still in its draft stage, has outlined a number of recommendations including the setting up of a Guyana Youth Links Network (GYLN), a system which will include a GYLN Secretariat, a youth fund, pilot programmes and partner organisations.

YABT suggests that such a network be co-ordinated by a secretariat located within the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sport and would be the Project Implementation Unit.

The network system, the YABT proposed, would also have decision-making powers, facilitate the creation and maintenance of partnerships, develop and oversee the GYLN budget, support the execution of its programmes and ensure that all its activities are in line with the National Youth Policy.

The proposals also include a number of pilot programmes which would be either preventative or rehabilitative in nature and would connect various services, trainings and other supports available to youth.

It also envisages a sport and culture youth development programme with agencies being primarily schools and community centres.

The youth development programme is only in its preparatory stage and will require more consultations with stakeholders.

Stakeholders include representatives of youth organisation in all ten administrative regions. (Heppilena Ferguson)