Minister of Youth, Stephen Lashley, accepting the draft National Youth Policy from consultant, Dr.??Ivan Henry (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Barbados should have a National Youth Policy (NYP) within the next four months.

This disclosure has come from Minister of Youth, Stephen Lashley, who said a final public consultation would be held shortly on the draft Policy, then the document would be finalised, approved by the Cabinet and tabled in Parliament.

Mr. Lashley made the comments today shortly before receiving a copy of the Draft National Youth Policy at the Grande Salle, Tom Adams Financial Centre. He stressed that when the process was completed, the Policy would be implemented according to the agreed Plan of Action and in accordance with available resources.

He told the gathering: "I sincerely hope that in the future, armed with this National Youth Policy, we will forever abandon the tendency to respond randomly and blindly to issues affecting our youth. No longer will Barbados use a haphazard approach to the problems of youth.

"Instead, we should be able to adopt a comprehensive and focused approach to the development of Barbadian youth, guided by a National Youth Policy that is based on extensive consultation among key stakeholders and which, during the past year, has benefited from the recommendations of a wide cross section of young people fully represented in the National Youth Forum of Barbados."

The Minister explained that when the final version of the Draft NYP was completed and the means of intervention chosen, the cost of the new initiatives would be calculated.

He opined that some persons would argue that now was not the time to allocate additional resources to the youth, but he disagreed. "If young people do not get involved in structured activities immediately after leaving school they will develop bad habits; bad habits that can lead to delinquency," he maintained.

Even though Barbados was in a deep recession, he stated, Government remained committed to taking up the most important recommendations of the draft once finalised and implementing them to stave off greater expenditure in the future.

Mr. Lashley remarked that if this island was to survive and prosper, young people had to be given an opportunity to make a significant contribution to its national development. "I am, therefore, expecting this Draft National Youth Policy will send a clear message to young people to step up to the plate and take their rightful place at the table, where crucial decisions are being made about their welfare and the future of this nation – basically taking responsibility for their inheritance," he stated.

The Minister said he was hoping the document would encourage young people to make their contribution to building a better country. He promised that Government would continue to address the needs of the most vulnerable members of the society, as well as care for young mothers, disengaged and disabled youth, and those at risk, among others.

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