Youth Minister Roland Bhola has cited need for a review of the New Imani programme, raising concerns that it may not be reaching the pool of persons or have the maximum potential it is intended to reach.
During the 2017 Budget presentation last week Friday, Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, announced an allocation of EC$ 27 million for the New Imani programme in the coming year.
Addressing the graduation ceremony for the third batch of Imanis to complete the two-year programme at a ceremony held at the National Cricket Stadium last week Wednesday; Minister Bhola expressed disappointment with those who arrived “half an hour after the programme was supposed to be started.”
THE NEW TODAY observed some graduates leaving the premises before the ceremony came to a complete end.
The event was expected to start at 10.00 a.m. but did so nearly one hour later.
Minister Bhola did not mince words in expressing his disappointment with some of the Imanis.
He said: “I was here at 10 minutes to 10a.m, I was told that the programme would start at 10 o’ clock and I was sitting in my vehicle and I am seeing some people, they are coming in and it didn’t matter to them (that they were late), they were walking with no sense of purpose, they had no urgency (and) did not behave as though they were coming to something of meaning”.
Pointing to the graduation theme, “Celebrating our achievements with pride, looking to the future with renewed vigour and passion to succeed,” the Youth Minister asked the graduates: “Do you feel a sense of pride about today (Graduation day)? . According to Minister Bhola it is plain to him that, the “body language (of some of the graduates) says to me that you are not happy about what you are doing.”
He said, while the New Imani programme has done “tremendous good” for some of the young people the fact of the matter is that many still continue to “argue that the stipend is not sufficient…but as we speak about achievement, are we talking here of individual achievement or collective achievement”.
“…Are we really serious about moving into the future (and) about wanting to succeed in today’s world and into the future world? he questioned the Imanis.
The government minister asserted “it is time that all of us, including myself and the government team to look at our Imani programme again,” to determine if it is reaching the people it’s intended to reach and if it is achieving its maximum potential”.
“I listen to some of the complaints and I look at some of the behaviours and I ask myself – are we transforming our young people and getting them to understand that they have a role to play and are responsible for their own destiny?”
“Let us do some self examination friends. Let’s really ask ourselves in this celebration that we are talking about today, the achievements that we are projecting – are we satisfied that we are where we should be after two years?
A total of 875 persons graduated last week Thursday, bringing the actual number of persons successfully completing the Imani programme to 2580.
The Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government in St. George’s has often been accused of using the Imani programme as a vote-catching exercise among the nation’s young people.