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Jul 22, 2011

Youth consultation to derive National Youth Policy

The Ministry of Education and Youth hosted three hundred and ten young people from the Belize District at its Youth Consultation Forum. The event, which is a part of a countrywide initiative, engaged youth ages fifteen through nineteen to share what they would like to see implemented into the National Youth Policy that will be derived from the meeting. News Five spoke with Youth for the Future’s Nomar Bembridge who says that the young people have very specific issues that they want addressed.

Nomar Bembridge, Manager Governance Unit, YFF

Nomar Bembridge

“We’re going to develop a policy and with the policy there will be a plan of action, monitoring and evaluation tools—everything is going to come out. We are trying to get the first draft by the first week in August and then after we’ve done the first draft, we are going to take the policy back to the district talk to the young people—see if this captures the sentiments they expressed to us and then we are going to take it up to Cabinet after. And if Cabinet approves, we’ll attach a plan of action, go back to the young people and see if it works and then we will go to the service providers and say hey this is what the young people are asking for so let us tweak our strategic plans to actually suit what they are asking us for.”

Andrea Polanco

“So Nomar what prompted this national youth consultation to take place?”

Nomar Bembridge

“Well it’s been on our agenda for a while. As the leading youth agency in Belize we’ve always had this as one of our mandate to actually develop a national youth policy. Most Caribbean countries and most developing countries actually have a policy to govern youth work and we thought it necessary that we move in the same direction—that we no longer come up with haphazard plans and actions and programs that don’t really meet one’s strategic objective.”

Andrea Polanco

“So what are some of the issues coming forth this morning?”

Nomar Bembridge

“Some of the dreams that our young people have: a lot of them would like to have free education, of course they would like to see the crime rate go down, one of the other big issues is industries—a lot of them are calling for more industries so that when they are through getting education, they would have something to do rather than just get qualified and hoping for someone to hire them. Another one; a lot of them are actually  hoping that the oil industry would materialize into more and they will all benefit—it will benefit more Belizeans than just individuals.”

Andrea Polanco

“So these are big expectations and I know that across the country we always see little small initiatives taking place and we here that a document is going to come out of it and we are going to see things change. What guarantee do these young people have that their dreams, their aspirations are going to be put into a document and actually put into place?”

Nomar Bembridge

“What we are going to do with this particular policy—when the policy has been coined and they have given their stamp of approval—we’re then going to go back to the young people and we’re going to try and develop a national youth council. Now what the council’s mandate will be is actually keeping youth service providers, like myself, accountable to the policy. So in each district you will have a national youth council representative and they will form a greater part of or national youth council and they will become the watchdogs for the policy. So if they want to see it actually implemented, they’re going to be the voices saying hey we said we wanted this and you are straying away from it. So we will give them the power to hold us accountable.”

Crystal Dacoff

Crystal Dacoff, Participant, Belize City

“Well my expectations are for the youths to actually take leadership in their community instead of stop following the gangs out here because if you talk to many youths on the street, they just join gangs because they don’t have nothing to do; they have no one to tell them what to do or how to do things. When they join a gang, a gang member tells them they got to do this; provide for them and they need to learn that they have a voice and they should use it.”

Andrea Polanco

“What are some of the things that you think need to be put in place for young people here in the country of Belize?”

Kenny Bennett

Kenny Bennett, Participant Dangriga

“Mostly I want to see more children in school and off the street, more youths saying what’s on their mind and to understand what’s happening right now in our country.”

“So I know that these consultations have been taking place across the country. I know they were in Dangriga. What are some of the concerns of the young people in Dangriga?”

Kenny Bennett

“Well mostly we didn’t have a lot. Most of our students are out of school, our females are getting pregnant. We don’t have enough jobs to say that we can give the youths to make them fund their own school supplies and go to school and all that.”

Andrea Polanco

“So you believe Youth For the Future and the Ministry of Education and Youth can help y’all to achieve your dreams?”

Kenny Bennett

“Yes ma’am because it helped me so it could help every other person around.”

The consultation continues on Saturday with young people ages twenty through twenty nine at the Princess Hotel. The event hosted by the Youth for the Future is in collaboration with the Commonwealth Youth Program and UNICEF.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Youth consultation to derive National Youth Policy”

  1. Diehard Belizean says:

    Hmm, another Youth Consultation?? Hmm, there is still money in the coffers to spend. How many more times will we hear about “Youth consultations”? On the surface it looks good (for the youth, for the caterers and for the venue) but I bet you my 1 cent that just like the one done last year with young people it will go on a shelf.

    Man, when will the findings of these consultations be turned into concrete actions for young people with fear or favour?? So, let’s see what happens with another YOUTH POLICY CONSULTATION.

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