THE Saint Lucia National Youth Council (SLNYC) is basking in the knowledge that some members of the new Cabinet of Ministers were once leaders amongst its ranks years ago.
“The SLNYC congratulates Hon. Dr. Ernest Hilaire, the first president of the SLNYC Students Branch on his appointment as the Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information and his success at a second term as the Parliamentary Representative for Castries South. We celebrate all members of the present Government who served as members and close affiliates of the Saint Lucia National Youth Council in previous years. Our organization is proud of a legacy that has and continues to produce leaders who serve at the highest levels of government,” the Council said via a release yesterday.
The Council singled out Jeremiah Norbert of Micoud South, who despite losing a leg in a motorcycle accident earlier this year, stuck to his goal of representing the constituency in parliament by defeating the longtime holder of the seat, Gale Rigobert, in last July 26 general elections.
“We particularly acknowledge the achievements of the young candidates who emerged successful at the polls and view this occasion as a milestone to which more young people will be encouraged to vie for public office. Among the successful candidates, Hon. Jeremiah Norbert must be singled out for his bravery and tenacity amidst unfortunate circumstances. We are proud of the historical achievement of Hon. Norbert who provides a stark reminder of the power of Saint Lucian youth as key stakeholders in the development of our country,” stated the SLNYC.
According to the Council, over the years, youth leaders and practitioners have experienced many structural impediments to sustainable youth programming and mainstreaming, adding that while it is pleased by the current strides of the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports to implement a revised National Youth Policy, it recognize that the policy, once adopted, will require significant social and economic investments to meet desired outcomes. And that political will is key to creating the enabling environment for such a policy, and the lack thereof has been a hindrance to progress over the last 15 – 20 years.
“The SLNYC commends the Government on covering school facility fees for the 2021/2022 Academic Year. We urge the administration to go a step further with education reforms that align the sector to the demands of Industry 4.0 and by increasing Government of Saint Lucia Scholarships for underprivileged tertiary students in traditional and emerging sectors.
“The emphasis on Vocational Training within the Ministry of Education is a commendable step, acknowledging the labour force’s demand for the technical and vocational certification of job-seekers. This new focus will provide disadvantaged youth who are often the casualties of our school system, a much desired second chance or alternate educational pathway to better livelihoods for themselves and their families,” noted the Council.
The Council calls on the Government to prioritise Youth Safety and Security in its 5-year agenda for the country, explaining that a thorough assessment of these effects can inform policies to reduce the long-term manifestation of all forms of violence and exploitation, youth poverty, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, truancy and school drop outs, among many other ills.
“Of critical importance is youth unemployment, which according to pre-COVID-19 statistics, experienced a steady decline to 31.6% in 2019 (Labour Force Survey Annual Statistical Report, 2019). Acknowledging the prevailing limitations, we are hopeful that the concept of a Youth Economy will strengthen the local economy and increase employment opportunities for talented young Saint Lucians,” stated the Council.
The Saint Lucia National Youth Council says it looks forward to its first engagement with the Prime Minister. The two parties met last year but it was in Pierre’s capacity as Leader of the Opposition. The Council intends to hold introductory meetings with the Minister of Youth Development and Sports and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of the Youth Economy on the way forward.
The Council extends commendations to Prime Minister Pierre upon the swearing in of a new Cabinet of Ministers, “following a convincing victory for the Saint Lucia Labour Party at the 2021 General Election. We congratulate the successful candidates across all 17 constituencies who will serve in Saint Lucia’s parliament; the legislative branch of government.”
We implore the Government to practice inclusive governance with a heavy focus on strengthening local government to involve youth from all backgrounds to participate in the decision-making of the country.