Government now has two additional resources to assist in developing policies for the youth in Barbados.
This comes with the presentation and distribution of United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) Generation Unlimited (GenU) Report and the launch of Barbados’ chapter of UNICEF’s U-Report Project.
During the launch of the reports yesterday at the Radisson Aquatica Resort, Director of Youth Affairs in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Cleviston Hunte, spoke on the GenU Report, while consultant Firhaana Bulbulia presented an overview of the U-Report Project.
Mr. Hunte explained that the GenU Report was another collaboration with UNICEF which the Ministry felt was important to embark on to reduce some of the existing data gaps and to provide evidence that would allow practitioners “to have a better understanding of youth issues, provide effective based programmes in the appropriate areas and to ensure that Government is getting value for monies invested”.
He noted that the GenU Report highlighted the major factors identified as causes of juvenile crime in Barbados which include: peer pressure (65 per cent), materialism (34 per cent), lack of parental control (26 per cent) unemployment (14 per cent), drug abuse (98 per cent) and the absence of a role model (8 per cent). Some of the data utilised in the GenU Report was derived from government agencies and inter-governmental organisations.
Despite the study’s limitations, which included data gaps, unavailability of data and lack of comparability over time, Mr. Hunte said its findings still provided important baseline data and reliability, which would be improved through further stakeholder analysis and discussion.
In her presentation, Ms. Bulbulia described the U-Report as a “collective voice” that presents the thoughts, ideas and solutions of Barbadian youth in a meaningful way.
“Through the U-Report Project, a team of young experts make up a steering committee that will design polls on topics of relevance, interest and importance to our peers. We then meet young people where we are at on social media, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and even through SMS Text. Through these platforms, youth can register freely and confidentially to become U-Reporters,” she explained.
Monthly, youth will be sent short, engaging polls, directly to their inboxes and messaging apps. Thousands of responses from these polls will then be collected and uploaded to the digital U-Report platform and statistics made available for all to see.
The data collected can even be broken down into specific categories such as age, gender and parish. Depending on the topic, persons may begin to see trends or gaps emerge between different groups of youth.
However, Ms. Bulbulia pointed out that to fully grasp the importance and potential impact of U-Report in Barbados, Government and key stakeholders, must first understand the lived realities of Barbadian youth and how their ability to shape, create, innovate and lead change is valued within our systems of governance.
“It is hoped this valuable resource will help governments, policymakers, development agencies and youth ourselves to make more informed decisions and better plan to serve the needs of our communities,” she outlined.