Caribbean youth decry breakdown of values

– research finds

Youth across the Caribbean region are alarmingly concerned about what they described as serious disintegration of social institutions and values, according to research findings by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Commission on Youth Development (CCYD).

And researcher Terri-Ann Gilbert Roberts said this has  affected youth development negatively and consequently prompted a strong call for appropriate youth governance structures to address the problem, the CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, stated in a press release yesterday.
Meantime, Sociologist Professor Barry Chevannes said that  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.

Cry of youth
“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 is quoted as saying.
Professor Chevannes who is the co-Chair of the CCYD acknowledged that the solutions lay primarily within the youth. However, he posited that Heads of Government need 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). It also has 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.

This will be discussed by the 13th  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 release added, CCYD was scheduled to meet in Jamaica on Thursday and yesterday 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.

During her presentation on Thursday to a group of over 50  stakeholders including Commissioners, CARICOM youth ambassadors, and representatives of departments of youth affairs and National Youth Councils, Commissioner Terri-Ann 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.
She noted too 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.

Socializing agents
Meanwhile, 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.

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