Youth empowerment initiatives must be driven by the nation’s young people, says Youth Minister Richards

Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 31, 2015 (SKNIS)—Youth empowerment initiatives in St. Kitts and Nevis should be driven by the youth themselves and not solely by those within the Department of Youth Empowerment, said Minister of Youth and Education, Honourable Shawn Richards during the most recent edition of the Government’s weekly call-in radio programme “Working for You.”
The youth minister said that in a meeting earlier this week with representatives of the Youth Empowerment Department, he suggested that before initiatives are pursued on behalf of youth development, the young people should first be engaged. He even suggested that ideally, before the next National Budget, a youth forum should have been held so that stakeholders could hear the views and of the youth.
“It should not be a matter for the staff of the department, sitting down and coming up with the programmes for young people. We have to engage our young people,” Richards said. “We know that throughout the course of this year, as those programmes are rolled out, the very same young people, who would have asked for the programmes are out there monitoring us to make sure that we are delivering their programmes because of what they would have suggested to us,” Richards added.
He said very early in the New Year, the Government will host the youth forum and assured that the draft youth policy will go through the parliamentary process and guide the work of the Department of Youth Empowerment.
The minister further added that the National Youth Council, which is currently dormant, must become active under his tenure.
“It embarrasses me when I have to attend regional and international meetings and other countries can speak to the fact that they have an active National Youth Council, but here in St., Kitts and Nevis the Youth Council has been dormant for years. That council must say to Government that the youth would want to see these particular programmes in place,” Minister Richards said. “We have too many issues affecting our young people…for us not to be hearing from our young people throughout the length and breadth of St. Kitts and Nevis,” Mr. Richards said.

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