A new federal youth policy in St Kitts and Nevis will give young people greater access to education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. That's according to Pauline Campbell, Head of the Commonwealth Technical Assistance Unit.
Her comments come after the country's government announced it had finalised the policy and is preparing to take it to Cabinet. Created to improve the prospects of young people in the twin island Caribbean nation, the policy was drafted with support from UNESCO and Commonwealth Secretariat-funded youth expert Dwynette Eversley.
"Young people today have to circumnavigate multiple challenges to achieve their career and personal goals and reach their full potential. Unemployment, crime and even wider issues such as climate change are affecting their prospects. Our expert was able to support the government of St. Kitts and Nevis to engage with young people and a range of other stakeholders and to create a strategy that is evidence-based, rights–based, gender responsive, inclusive, participatory and comprehensive," said Ms. Campbell.
She continued, "On a practical level, the policy for 12 to 29 year olds promises to improve education opportunities, provide more leisure activities, help young people prepare for the job market, and deal with pressing health concerns. Ultimately, the aim is to have a youth population that is healthy, educated, socially and economically empowered, protected from violence and armed with the tools to put their country on the path towards achieving its sustainable development goals."
The St. Kitts and Nevis government has described the initiative as a key priority, with the policy's executive summary stating that it will promote "a major transformational paradigm of youth as assets to a society and to human growth and development."
In a recent address to more than 250 young people, senior public officials and representatives from the private sector, Shawn Richards, deputy prime minister and minister of youth, education, sports and culture, spoke about the "distinctive gaps between what we wish for our youth and the mechanisms which are put in place to enable those wishes".
He said, "Through this policy, the storms of social discontent, the economic earthquakes, the tsunami of violence and the raging fires fanned by the lack of opportunity will all be addressed in order to safeguard and empower our young people.
"Our youth cannot continue to be the decorations to our deeds and misdeeds, nor only be seen as ornaments; but their needs must be considered in every developmental planning decision taken by the decision-makers of the country. It must be realized that, with 50% of our population being under the age of thirty, youth are not only the future, but youth are the now!"
Expressing his deep gratitude for the Secretariat's support, Vernon Connor, special adviser to the minister of youth in St. Kitts and Nevis, said, "I would like to re-iterate to Dwynette Eversley, my most profound appreciation for her tremendous leadership and direction, ardent service and sacrifice, and unswerving patience and commitment to bringing this entire process to this auspicious and celebrative point. I express many thanks to UNESCO and the Commonwealth for their invaluable assistance as well."