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Caribbean youth lament disintegration of social institutions and values
Published on Saturday, January 17, 2009
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): GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CARICOM Research findings conducted by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Commission on Youth Development (CCYD) have revealed that youth across the Caribbean Region were alarmingly concerned about what they described as serious disintegration of social institutions and values. This, according to researcher, Terri-Ann Gilbert Roberts, had affected youth development negatively and consequently prompted a strong call for appropriate youth governance structures to address the problem. Sociologist Professor Barry Chevannes said, while the findings might be “nothing new,” that the youth across the Region have singled this out as a priority to be addressed urgently by Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community is an indication of the gravity of the problem. “The cry of the youth brings to sharp focus a defining moment for CARICOM Heads of Government and to ignore it would be to do so at the Region’s peril,” he asserted. Professor Chevannes who is the co-Chair of the CCYD acquiesced that the solutions lay primarily within the youth. However, he posited that Heads of Government needed to provide the enabling environment through youth governance frameworks which would allow the youth to develop effective solutions to their own problems. Those frameworks, he said, should be “facilitative and not restrictive; descriptive and not prescriptive.” The CCYD was established in March 2007 by CARICOM Heads of Government to analyse the challenges and opportunities for youth in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), and to make recommendations on how to improve their well-being and empowerment to the Conference of Heads of Government. In December 2008, the Commission met in Haiti to discuss quantitative and qualitative preliminary research findings and to develop a plan of action to complete the Commission’s Report which is to be discussed by the Thirteenth Special Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) in April, before it is presented to the 30th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government, slated for July 2009. In this regard, the CCYD is now meeting in Jamaica (15-16 January) to obtain feedback on the research findings, conclusions and recommendations with a view to developing a regional vision and strategic framework for sustainable youth connectivity and engagement in national and regional development. The two-day Regional Planning Workshop which takes place under the theme: Engaging Youth in Development has its primary focus on youth governance in Regional Development.During her presentation on Thursday, to a group of over fifty stakeholders including Commissioners, CARICOM youth ambassadors, and representatives of departments of youth affairs and National Youth Councils, Commissioner Gilbert-Roberts pointed to findings which indicated a crisis in youth empowerment. This, she said, was further exacerbated by the socio-economic decline now being experienced globally. Gilbert-Roberts noted that the research findings also implied that youth-led organizations needed to be critical of their own responsiveness to youth needs and their mobilization of unattached youth in informal networks at the community/grassroots level. Outgoing Dean of the CARICOM Youth Ambassador Programme, Donna Greene, in responding to the findings stated that young people now realized that they lacked the critical values necessary for their own development and optimal functioning, and pointed to the critical roles of the major socializing agents of home, school and civil society in addressing the problem. She also acknowledged that the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors needed to re-examine their role, strategically align themselves to other youth related organisations, and build capacity in order to engage their peers more effectively. Co-Chair of the Commission, Yldiz Beighle, added that the research had harnessed a wide cross-section of regional youth whose voices and issues could not be ignored and called for youth issues to remain high priority on the national and regional agendas. The two-day meeting will also examine lessons learnt by national research teams in mobilizing and connecting to and engaging a heterogeneous group of young people. It will end on Friday with its primary output being the development of a regional vision and strategic framework for sustainable youth connectivity and engagement to inform the Commission’s final report.