Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Stephen Lashley??

Government wants to see the resuscitation of youth organisations at the community level.

That is the word from Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Stephen Lashley, who said it would allow officials to decentralise a lot of what was done in terms of central planning and youth development, so partnerships could be built with those [community] organisations to ensure vulnerable young people were reintegrated.

While speaking to the media last Tuesday at the close of the Regional Youth Ministers’ Meeting (RYMM), Mr. Lashley stressed that innovative ways must be found to get young people involved in dialogue. "We have to start the process of discussion. We don’t want to come up with solutions from on high. We want to find out and integrate the young people in actually identifying solutions to some of these problems," he stated.

The Minister said he and his colleagues in the region were keen to build and strengthen national youth councils, and where none existed, encourage the creation of those bodies.

He disclosed that a number of decisions were taken at the meeting, including focusing on strategies to encourage employment and entrepreneurial activity among young people, as well as building on the skills and competencies available to youth development agencies across the region.

Mr. Lashley added that the International Year of the Youth would be commemorated from August 2010 and he noted that it was an opportune time to share and celebrate the positive attributes of young people.

Regional Director of the Commonwealth Youth Programme, Henry Charles, said it was time members of the public moved away from seeing young people as "a problem to be addressed" and view them as "an asset".

Mr. Charles pointed out that because of the impact of the global economic recession, there was a challenge for countries as to how they could identify new sources of revenue and make optimal use of existing revenue and resources.

"As a result of the resource challenge," he explained, "there is a need to build on existing partnerships, to look for new partnerships and to be more strategic in how they go about the partnership arrangement. We recognise that given some of the youth development realities, there are persons who are now demonstrating some level of concern and are prepared to put in resources in the process."

Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Mmasekgoa Musire-Mwamba, said she was pleased with the outcome of the RYMM, stressing that there was great interaction between the ministers and the young people, so the decisions arrived at were a reflection of what the youth required.

"We believe that there was a strong acknowledgement that governments need to go beyond coming up with policies and programmes for youth, to move into the realm of evaluating, monitoring and implementation to ensure that there is an effective outcome of the youth programmes that are being considered," Mrs. Musire-Mwamba disclosed.

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