|Minister of Youth, Stephen Lashley|
The National Youth Service (NYS), which is one of the key proposals in the soon to be debated National Youth Policy, will not be mandatory, but voluntary.
This clarification came today from Minister of Youth, Stephen Lashley, who stressed: "It is not going to be a mandatory arrangement; it is meant to be voluntary. Young people will be encouraged to volunteer to be a part of the National Youth Service
and those who do not want to be a part of it would have that option. We are not going to be forcing anything down the young people’s throats."
Mr. Lashley was responding to recent comments on Facebook and in Barbados Today which suggested that under the NYS, "all Barbadians between the ages of 15 and 29 will be mandated to give … national service…"
However, the Minister stated: "I take the view that where there is a need to clarify any language used in the policy, this should be done at the earliest possible time and I propose to clarify it further on the floor of the House of Assembly on Tuesday, October 16. Whatever amendment is necessary to make it clear that the National Youth Service is voluntary will be done."
He explained that the National Youth Service would create "a focused approach in terms of what many young people currently do, as it relates to volunteerism. But, we are going to add more structure to it for it to redound to the benefit of those young volunteers and the society as a whole".
Mr. Lashley pointed out that before the National Youth Policy was developed, there were several focus groups with young people who asked for the introduction of a regularised volunteer system.