Under the watchful eyes of CARICOM Secretariat deputy programme manager, youth development, Dr Heather Johnson and facilitators Dr Tennyson Joseph and Dwynette Eversley, who are members of the technical working group (TWG) that drafted the goals and the action plan, the participants worked assiduously to fine-tune the following six CARICOM youth development goals:
• Education and economic empowerment;
• Universal access to and completion of secondary education by 2016;
• Reshaping of national education policies to reflect the life cycle approach to learning by January 2013;
• Establishment of integrated programmes providing employability skills transition skills and entrepreneurial skills for youth in and out of school;
• Full productive employment and decent work for all young people; and
• The implementation of policies to ensure youth access to land property and other resources.
The meeting also distilled priority outcomes and actions from each goal to formulate the framework for the CDYAP that will also serve to operationalise the Paramaribo Declaration. Clear targets and indicators were set for each goal including a mapping of resources and partnerships necessary to realize the priority actions within the plan and a monitoring and evaluation plan, which according to Joseph, was a response to the insistent demand from Caribbean youth for youth policies to be research based and data driven. This, he asserted, should provide coherence to the otherwise piecemeal fashion in which youth work was being carried out in the region, thus stifling the youth development agenda.
In his presentation he explained that the goals were underpinned by a philosophy anchored in reality and practice.
“The youth have demanded an action plan that is balanced, underpinned by philosophy and rooted in practice and we cannot give them anything less…” he stated.
The participants were also guided by Eversley into drafting mission and vision statements for the CYDAP and also to establish core values of leadership, innovation creativity, accountability and integrity.
The workshop was supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Youth-In Project. The project’s coordinator, Dr Paula Hidalgo-Sanchis, stressed the importance of investing in youth and explained that the Youth-In project was a funding window developed to support viable youth priority initiatives within the region as part of the UNDP’s commitment to advance the youth agenda and in response to the findings of the seminal report of the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development (CCYD) on the situation of youth in the Caribbean.
She added that the project hinged on partnerships and underscored the importance of establishing national focal points with whom the UNDP could work to develop viable proposals to access the funds.
In outlining the next steps, Johnson explained that the TWG would meet in January to put their finishing touches on the action plan for submission to the 22nd meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) which will focus on Youth, Sport and Culture, in January.
In anticipation of this meeting the monitoring and evaluation consultant will also meet with the TWG before January to refine the indicators for the CYDGs. The CARICOM Secretariat, she said, would work in tandem with youth stakeholders to develop a more user youth friendly version of the CYDAP.
Johnson encouraged directors of youth to utilize new media to promote the youth development goals.
The meeting also agreed to the establishment of a national youth advisory forum in each country with democratic and broad-based representation to support implementation and evaluation of the action plan and a regional advisory youth forum comprising country representatives to meet with the Secretariat and the directors of youth affairs as part of a policy planning and decision-making for regional youth development.