Given the changing socio-economic conditions of young people across the island, the Barbados Youth Service (BYS) needs to be proactive and flexible.
Minister of Youth, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, expressed this view last Saturday, while delivering the feature address at the BYS’ graduation ceremony for the October 2007 Intake of trainees at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. She said this was also necessary in light of the rise in drug abuse, anti-social behaviours and crime participation among the youth here.
Dr. Byer Suckoo told the gathering that the National Youth Service would be launched in the future, stressing that it would be a mixture of experimental learning and service to one’s nation. She explained that the National Youth Service would consist of three tiers: secondary school-based citizenship education and community service, a non-residential national youth service and a residential national youth service.
“The thrust behind the development of a National Youth Service was the perceived increase in anti-social behavior among our youth, threatening our societal development. Research has reflected that many of our institutions of social change, that is, family, community and even government, have failed the youth,” the Minister stated.
She pointed out that government ministries and agencies that work with the youth must address the situation through various programmes. “…We have to strengthen families and communities. And we have to raise the level of responsibility of our youth through national service, allowing them to make a meaningful contribution to society and develop a sense of pride and industry. Our vacation camp programme will provide opportunities for teenagers to work with children in communities all over Barbados and to understand community and the value of giving,” Dr. Byer Suckoo said.
During the address, she urged the private sector and those entrepreneurs to become a part of the programme or any other that would allow them to employ and train young people. She opined that it would be an investment in those businesses, stressing that the energy and creativity those young people would take to the organisation would be beneficial to it.
The BYS programme runs for one-year and it strives to help the trainees to develop self-discipline and professional skills, while strengthening the psychological and psychosocial development of young people. Each trainee must complete a three-month residential phase, followed by a day-release component, during which participants receive training in skills development, work orientation, public and private sector job attachments, while engaging in academics, sports, cultural development, group and individual counselling and community service.
Several awards were presented during the evening, with Raymond Delphi receiving the Director’s Award and Shana Lewis copping the Minister’s Award.