The Barbados National Youth Parliament demonstrates Government???s commitment to ensuring that young people take their ???rightful place as architects and enablers of this country???s development and future???.
Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, made this assertion today during the opening ceremony for the Youth Parliament at the House of Assembly in Bridgetown.
Mr. Lashley said that while the idea of a youth parliament was not a novel one, there was evidence regionally and internationally that suggested such an initiative was effective because it would provide opportunities and platforms for young people to learn about parliamentary systems, democracy, social governance and social responsibility.
He explained that the decision to create a comprehensive youth parliament came to fruition as a result of discussion with young people during the research stage of the National Youth Policy.?????Young people articulated the view that they were apathetic and alienated from the political process and that there were structural barriers that limited their participation in the governance structures of the country,??? he said.
Stating that Barbados National Youth Parliament sought to increase political participation among young people, he outlined that the goals and objectives of the Parliament included: connecting the youth with existing members of parliament; developing a cohort of youth who are articulate and passionate advocates for increased political activity by their peers; and encouraging volunteerism and community activism among the youth.
Minister Lashley, however, warned the young parliamentarians that it was up to them to make the institution a success. He challenged the youngsters to actively participate in the process, adding that a successful and effective youth parliament could be relied upon to stimulate growth and change among its participants, organisers and the wider community.
???We simply cannot be talking about improving our social, political and economic circumstances and young people opt out of the very process that is critical for the sustained development of our country.
???Our current economic challenges require ideas and solutions from our young people as well. The need to diversify our economy and focus on self-help initiatives, innovation, the cultural industries and entrepreneurship, requires the full attention and involvement of our young people in order for success to be achieved,??? he said.
The Barbados National Youth Parliament comprises 60 members who were drawn from secondary schools. They are the Barbados Community College, the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, and the University of the West Indies, as well as young people recommended by recognised youth and community groups or constituency councils.??It is open to Barbadians and permanent residents between the ages of 14 and 21.