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CYP Director calls on Political Parties to better articulate their youth development strategies

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November 16, 2006 - Georgetown, Guyana: - Young St Lucians have been commended for their high level of participation in the current elections season

Speaking in London following a recent visit to Saint Lucia, Mr. Henry Charles, Regional Director of the Commonwealth Youth Programme Caribbean Centre, described as “encouraging” the level of youth participation in the current General Elections campaign in the 238 sq mile Eastern Caribbean Island.

According to Mr. Charles, "That so many young persons are involved in the process as candidates, front line activists and supporters, is indeed very encouraging and augurs well for the further advancement of Saint Lucia's democratic process."

The Regional Director commented that the involvement of young people in the electoral process compels political parties to become more creative and cutting edge in campaign style and strategy.

However, he lamented the fact that parties campaigning for the 2006 General Election are “insufficiently consistent and coherent in articulating their respective youth development strategies.”

According to him, "While Saint Lucian youth have made great strides in many fields of endeavour and they continue to impact in a very positive manner on the development of their communities and society there are still many challenges which Government, political parties and civil society must give adequate and appropriate attention to."

Some of these, he highlighted, are: Youth unemployment and underemployment; social exclusion and stereotyping of young people from especially socially challenged communities; the need to reform and upgrade the juvenile justice system including the modernization of youth detention centres and adoption of internationally acceptable protocols and policies for rehabilitation of young offenders; the adoption and implementation of international standards and protocols for child protection; the need for appropriate community support systems for at risk young people; the need to effectively address the incidents of incest and other forms of child abuse; and the need to broaden the scope of existing youth skills development programmes to include non traditional areas such as creative arts, leadership development, social research, community animation and development.

The CYPCC Regional Director contends that whichever political party forms the next Government in Saint Lucia will be well advised to undertake a number of important measures as a matter of great import and urgency.

These measures include: the repositioning and upgrading of the Ministry of Youth and other relevant youth development agencies; main-streaming of youth development issues by establishing youth development focal points within mainstream government Ministries, departments and agencies; review the existing National Youth Policy and formulation of a National Youth Development Strategic Implementation Plan to operationalise the policy objectives; Engage the relevant Youth networks and other stakeholders in broad based consultation to redefine the national youth development agenda; the allocation of more resources for youth employment and Entrepreneurship development programmes and projects; the implementation of a comprehensive sports and healthy lifestyles strategy; and the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive ICT strategy to help bridge the youth digital divide, expand access to higher learning opportunities and create greater space and opportunities for skills development training.

Mr. Charles is also convinced that increased advocacy on the part of Saint Lucian young people will compel the various political parties and entities to pay greater attention to their development needs.

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