Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 04, 2015 (SKNIS): Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Shawn Richards recently sat down with the Taiwanese youth ambassadors to have a candid conversation including his plans for nation building.
The youth ambassadors are in the Federation to showcase their talents in the performing arts.
One of the ambassadors was quite pleased that the minister had achieved so much being a young Deputy Prime Minister in St. Kitts and Nevis. Hon. Richards attributed his success to being able to communicate with young persons.
“I have recognised that the young people are our future and I take each and every opportunity which has been afforded to me to reach out to them and assist in any way that I can,” he said. “I encourage them in particular to take advantage of educational opportunities and give them the necessary support to do so. I think they have recognised that they do have a representative who cares about them and so they have given me their full support. That does not mean however that I do not look after all of the people because I do indeed make that effort as they too have given me their support.”
The Deputy Prime Minister who is responsible for the ministries of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports told the young ambassadors that he has a number of goals set for his ministries.
“There are several goals I intend to achieve during my first term in office,” he revealed. “Education is the most pivotal part of our development. As we move towards transitioning our economy to the next level, we have to ensure that our people are educated to meet the needs of a changing economy. Part of that is diversifying the education portfolio.”
Minister Richards stated that he is aware of the fact that Taiwan has schools which are specially dedicated to technical and vocational education and training and intends to put more emphasis on that during his tenure.
“Here in St. Kitts and Nevis we are trying to expand our own technical and vocational education and training to our students because we have realised to a large extent that traditional academics have left a number of our own people behind,” he explained. “We have jobs that are emerging in that particular area of development, so we want to ensure that our people are trained to be able to take advantage of these jobs.”
In terms of sports, Minister Richards stated that there are greater strides which can be made in terms of building capacity for young persons in particular. He made reference to the Kim Collins Athletic Stadium which the Republic of China (Taiwan) assisted in building.
“From that athletic stadium we expect to be able to train more young persons to go out and compete on the world stage,” he noted. “Just recently we were able to attract a football team right here in St. Kitts and Nevis and with the assistance from Taiwan we have been able to upgrade our football stadium. We have been able to improve the lighting situation. So coming out of that of course we expect our young people, not only from the games that they play locally but by being able to play with persons who are some extent better skilled,[that] they will learn from them.
In the capacity of Youth Minister, Hon. Richards noted that there have been a number of youth on youth violence and that his ministry is working on a number of wholesome activities that will show them that there are alternatives to turning to a life of crime. Minister Richards noted that the visiting ambassadors stand as an example of what young people can do in the Federation in terms of performing arts.
With regards to culture, the minister expressed that “even though we have our own unique culture, it doesn’t mean that we cannot embrace other cultures. It doesn’t mean we cannot learn from other territories so that we could become as diversified as possible.” In his capacity as Minister of Culture he endeavours to “enrich and empower our own people to the extent that if they have to go on the international stage as performers and if they want to make a living out of that they are able to do so.”