DLP COLUMN: Youth Agenda
The fundamental challenge now facing this small nation whose greatest asset is its people, is how to survive and prosper in a rapidly changing, highly competitive global market place.
To follow established practice or to do nothing would be to consign the youth of Barbados to a future of ignorance, idleness and impotence even when the world economy recovers.
In a vibrant democracy, no Government would allow this to happen. It is for this reason that the Government of Barbados needs innovative policies based on rational discussion, extensive consultation, and consensus. – Stephen Lashley, Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth (2011)
It is against this background that an intervention was made by the current Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government. This decisive intervention by the new Minister of Youth, Family and Sports Stephen Lashley and the launch of the National Youth Forum (NYF) of Barbados on July 4 last year sent the clearest possible message to the youth that the DLP-led Government was committed to honouring and empowering them.
The youth of Barbados responded positively to this initiative by attending two meetings at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies and the Barbados Community College, respectively. These two sessions, which gave full expression to the views of our youth, received wide Press coverage and illustrated how when politics is removed from the policy agenda how comfortable people feel participating.
The concerns and views of the youth will not be used in such as a token political ploy. This strategy was the hallmark of the previous Arthur-led administration which they paraded as an agenda for youth.
We have all seen what the creation of short-term programmes under the previous Arthur-led administration meant and who they were to benefit. These programmes were not designed to empower the youth but to make elected Barbados Labour Party politicians look and feel good in the eyes of the voting public. This is why the decision to launch the NYF and generate the national youth policy is extremely timely. We want to congratulate Minister Lashley and the National Youth Policy Steering Committee for their commitment to the cause.
The foundation has been put in place upon which we can truly create and fashion an environment for our youth to grow and develop. This new architecture is being designed with the full input of our youth. The NYF currently has a steering committee of diverse youth who meet every Tuesday to conduct business on behalf of our youth. These youth leaders emerged out of the public business sessions.
As a party and Government we stand committed to empowering the youth sector. An examination of our NYF website www.nationalyouthforum.org would introduce the reader to a comprehensive copy of our Draft Youth Policy.
This document is commended to all Barbadians for reading. We urge the public to lend support by getting involved in making suggestions for its improvement.
We certainly know that in mapping out this agenda we cannot finish unless we start. Under this DLP a start has been made. This Stuart led Government will carry out and ensure that our youth are at the centre participating fully in the development agenda of our country.