A Government Minister has lamented that too many young people are falling victim to drugs, are engaging in premature sexual activity and becoming teen parents, oblivious to the great burden it will place on them, their families and government.

While addressing the Grantley Adams Memorial School’s Speech Day and Prize-Giving Ceremony yesterday, Minister of Youth, Stephen Lashley, urged young Barbadians to make wise choices regarding their reproductive health, the use of illegal drugs and engaging in lawlessness or crime. "You must be aware of those who will encourage you to accept mediocrity, to be dishonest and complacent and to adopt negative attitudes and a disregard for authority," he said.

Mr. Lashley stressed that young people were the nation’s builders and as government strives to promote Barbados as a developed country, it would need the active assistance of the youth.

"You, our youth, are our greatest treasures and we must do everything to ensure that our nation is developed in such a way that you fully understand and appreciate the role that you have to play," he stated.

The Minister expressed the view that there were many emerging opportunities in Barbados and implored the students not to view their education as the icing on the cake. He continued: "The attainment of a sound education is part of the process of developing the human resources of a country, there are also many other factors and qualities which can redound to the benefit of the individual and the society as a whole…

"Continually upgrade your skills and knowledge as today’s workers and entrepreneurs are required to do more and learn more. Advances in technology, coupled with strong competition, have changed the structure of today’s job market. Employers have been seeking out highly skilled persons in order to maximise their companies’ competitive edge," he argued.

Mr. Lashley advised the students not to focus only on a job since the world is fast becoming an entrepreneurial one. He encouraged them to research those areas of economic activity that would be in demand in the future. ??The Youth Minister reiterated that his Ministry wanted Barbadians to pursue careers in sports and he listed some as including psychologists, doctors, physiotherapists, managers and coaches.

"The lesson here is, do not confine yourselves only to traditional areas of occupation. You need to embrace Information Technology. We need persons who can master programme development – who can develop and manage websites. We need persons to master the cell phone technology and create new versions of today’s cell phone and export it to other countries," Mr. Lashley suggested.

The Minister recommended that the young people utilise the recently launched National Youth Forum, adding that it would provide them with a platform to interface with youth organisations and government in the development of policies and programmes for their benefit.

The Most Outstanding Student was Shanade Alleyne, while the Principal’s Prize went to Feonna Durant and the Most Improved Student was Timothy Price.??saustin@barbados.gov.bb

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