Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 2, 2015 (SKNIS): The Government of National Unity is committed to empowering the youth of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis through a number of policies and structures.

In a national address to mark the opening of Youth Month 2015 on November 1, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Youth, the Honourable Shawn K. Richards, pledged his Government’s unwavering support to the development of the young people throughout the Federation.

“My Government is committed to empowering our youth beyond mere tokenism, through creating and supporting conditions rich with opportunity and structure in which our youth can rise to the task of self-enablement and sufficiency, acting on their own terms, rather than aimlessly following the directions of others,” Minister Richards said.

He said that in the past purposelessly following the commands of others have resulted in “masses of the now underemployed, helplessly grasping at hand-outs of minimum wage with little hope of meaningful development or advancement.”

Deputy Prime Minister Richards focused on the need to engender and nurture critical thinking skills in the young people of St. Kitts and Nevis; noting that it is only through the capability of making informed and calculated decisions that one can say he or she is truly empowered.

“The act of empowering our youth is only actualized when we equip them to create or make choices in life with knowledge of the implications of said choices,” he said. “When our youth can make informed decisions freely, take necessary actions based on the choices made and are willing and able to accept the outcomes of decisions made, it is only then that our youths would finally have been empowered.”

Minister Richards outlined some of the initiatives the Government will undertake to ensure that this goal of empowerment is achieved. He said that his Government has embarked on creating “structures of empowerment through ensuring that secondary and tertiary institutions have functional student councils where they contribute to the decision making processes of said institutions.”

He further explained that although the “Youth Parliament has admirably debated pertinent issues including increased penalties for criminal activity and gun crimes in particular, the abolition of corporal punishment and more, these are not considered as the extent of the leadership of my Government in the structuring of empowerment.”

“Youth forums are planned for establishment in 2016 where our youth can find a platform for contributing to issues of importance to their spheres of involvement and influence; with the formation of a Federation-wide Youth Council being the eventual outcome. A place where our youth’s voices can clearly echo their resource and value to the development of our great twin-island state of St Kitts-Nevis,” Minister Richards said.

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