Youth weigh in on government’s policies and offer suggestions for the next five years

Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 19, 2021 (SKNIS): Fifty-nine young people across St. Kitts and Nevis engaged with senior officials from the Department of Youth Empowerment on Wednesday (November 17, 2021) to develop plans, offer ideas and share comments on the government’s agenda for youth for the next five years.

The meaningful engagement took place at the Youth Rap Session that was held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort. Minister of Youth, the Honourable Jonel Powell, and Dwynette Eversley, a consultant with the ministry, were the main presenters.

Minister Powell welcomed the interactive six-hour forum, noting that it allowed another opportunity to have candid and purposeful engagement with the participants. They were drawn from high schools, youth groups, the Volunteer Corps, and young entrepreneurs.

“I think it is really important, and I think the significance of what we are doing is actually having a conversation with the young people,” he stated. “Too often decisions are being made that affect them … and they are not involved in the discussion. We speak to them, we speak about them but we don’t speak with them and so this, I think, is important. It is another opportunity for me to do just that.”

Much of the morning session was spent discussing the revision of the Federal Youth Policy 2017-2022. Minister Powell stressed that consultation on the revised policy is essential as such a document must be shaped by the opinions and concerns of the youth population.

“These policies are not things that I think can just be set in stone. Things evolve. Two years ago, if you told us we would have been in this situation with COVID, nobody would have believed it and so we need to continue to update policies and change policies to reflect the current happenings, the current climate,” the minister of youth indicated, noting that the global health crisis, use and access to technology are key development issues. “We want to really ensure that we have a framework, we have a policy to guide them (youth) and to guide us as a department, as a government to really facilitate and support our young people.”

At the session on Wednesday, Ms. Eversley presented some details on the revision of the Federal Youth Policy 2017-2022 that is being updated for the next five years. She shared points of emphasis that the participants identified to be given prominence over that five-year span.

“There is a bigger push for attention to … provide avenues and pathways for youth involvement in the [United Nations] 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Climate Change – that is a big issue,” Ms. Eversley said. “There is a bigger push now on what are we doing to prepare current and future generations for food security, for nutrition. So where these were already in the 2017-2022 Policy, they are reemphasized because they matter more, they mean more.”

Consultations will continue with various stakeholders on the Draft Federal Youth Policy 2022-2027 in the coming weeks.

Featured Image – EMU Photo:  Minister Powell welcomed the candid discussions at the Youth Rap Session

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