Photo: Deputy PM the Honourable Shawn Richards
Minister Richards tables Federal Youth Policy in National Assembly
Basseterre, St. Kitts – The road map for youth development in St. Kitts and Nevis was officially introduced to the Federal Parliament by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Youth the Honourable Shawn Richards Nov. 14.
By laying the Federal Youth Policy of St. Kitts and Nevis 2017-2022 on the table in the National Assembly, Minister Richards said the government has lived up to a promise that was made before it took office in 2015.
“The goal of this policy is to mainstream the issues faced in ensuring that all youth in our federation have a fair, equitable opportunity to succeed in becoming balanced, self-actualized, productive contributors to all areas of our society,” he stated. “This policy therefore speaks to the creation of direct action plans by the government; [to nurture] inter-sectoral partnerships and linkages with both public and private institutions; [to empower] our young people to take responsibility and spark initiative with respect to their future; and to guide, support and nurture the national conscience to always consider the plight of the nation’s young people.”
The creation of a youth policy began 16 years ago. There were various versions of a draft document, but Minister Richards and his policy-making team felt that it did not sufficiently capture the complexity of issues that youth face in today’s globalized world. Aspects relating to youth employment, human rights, public safety, technology, education, entrepreneurship, among others, needed to be updated.
This prompted the Ministry of Youth to launch the Federal Youth Policy Initiative in November 2016. Technical assistance and financial support were provided by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations Education and Scientific Organization (UNESCO). A number of public consultations were held to get the perspective of citizens and residents from all segments of society.
Kerissa Roberts, a member of the St. Kitts National Youth Parliament Association (SKNYPA), participated in the consultation process and shared during an interview with the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service (SKNIS) that she was pleased with the efforts to establish the policy.
“It is a historic occasion,” she stated, noting her appreciation to the staff at the Department of Youth Empowerment for the efforts to finalize the policy.
In Parliament, the deputy prime minister added: “Today is not the end of the process. The tabling of the youth policy in this Honourable Parliament has merely brought us to the starting blocks and has given the commands to run. We encourage all to embrace this policy and get involved in embracing our young people.”
He further explained that, “Now that the Federal Youth Policy has been laid in the Parliament, the next step is for the strategic plan to be put into action. There is a strategic plan [that] accompanies the youth policy. That strategic plan lays out … how the different aspects of the policy will be put in place to ensure that all of the different goals outlined in the policy can be achieved and recognized by young people here in St. Kitts and Nevis.”