Government is reaching out to the youth of the country and will be sitting down with them to solicit their views and hear their concerns on a number of issues germaine to their well-being.

This will take the form of a planned national consultation for the youth this summer.
The disclosure has come from Minister of Family, Youth, Sports and the Environment, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, who said that her Ministry was currently in discussions with the Commonwealth Youth Programme’s Regional Centre in Guyana to facilitate the meeting.

She made the comments today while addressing the fifth annual youth congress of the Barbados Workers’ Union’s (BWU) Youth Arm at the Hugh Springer Auditorium, Solidarity House.

Dr. Byer-Suckoo told her audience: “We also have to hear the views, needs, concerns and ideas of our youths. I believe they are resourceful and creative and I actually believe that many of the solutions to our challenges today rest with our young people… I think we need current solutions to the current problems, not all of yesterday’s solutions will work for today’s problems. That is how we will empower the youth by hearing them, by giving them an opportunity.

“It is critical that we hear your views and that we incorporate them into the development agenda of our nation. It is also critical that you participate fully and positively in national programmes, projects and our activities.”

She promised that her Ministry would continue and intensify the activities of the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme and the Youth Development Programme and it would introduce a Youth Mainstreaming Programme which would incorporate the training and development of at-risk youth on an expanded island-wide basis.

“For the time being, we will retain the Barbados Youth Service Programme, but we will be reviewing it within the context of our proposal for establishing a more comprehensive national youth service.

A National Youth Service Programme will help to ensure that all young people are exposed to opportunities for empowerment and that they make a smooth transition to adulthood… We will shortly conclude our internal review and the necessary recommendations will be made to Cabinet,” Dr. Byer-Suckoo told the gathering.

Noting that the nation was facing many challenges, including increases in the cost of living and issues of HIV/AIDS, the Minister said Government was aware of the situation and was devising strategies to meet them.

Dr. Byer-Suckoo lauded the BWU for its outreach to the youth, stating that “national development hinges on youth development” and investment in the youth was critical.

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