This is “the year of political education and organisation development of the youth.”
That’s the phrase that the Youth Movement of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has coined to stimulate and push forward its agenda for 2016.
Deputy Chairman of the NDC Youth Movement, Ron Redhead, who made the announcement last week Wednesday, said a number of activities are in the pipeline to help accomplish the overall goal of developing a national plan to address the real issues facing the nation’s youth.
Redhead expressed the view that enough is not being done for the youth in light of the many issues still facing young people, especially unemployment and a lack of proper housing facilities.
“It is not only required that we have discussions at ease about it but, that we form ourselves into a group and create sort of document.
“The vision coming out of this summit would be to create a national youth document, which will outline the problems and a solution going forward,” Redhead told reporters gathered for the first press conference of the movement for 2016 at the NDC Headquarters in St. George’s.
He said the highlight activity will be an inaugural Grenada Youth Summit dubbed – GYS – carded for the month of September, which will “involve young people from all aspects of life both locally and regionally.”
Expounding on the idea, NDC Caretaker for the St. George’s North West constituency, Ali Dowden said GYS 2016 will give young people the opportunity to “let their voices be heard on the issues they care about, discussing challenges and a solution.”
Looking internationally, Dowden who was the youngest NDC candidate in the 2013 general elections, recalled a statement by the World Bank that “increased government openness is crucial to earning back the trust of young people”.
“Perceptions of corruption, inefficiencies and bad management have resulted in a lack of trust in Government”, he added.
Dowden went on to say, “with increasing inequality, unemployment and lack of sustainable solutions, this perception is especially true amongst youth who feel their voices are often overlooked, disregarded and shut out of the government decision making processes.”
He also noted that “youth are at the heart of a new development strategy being undertaken by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS),” which previously “focused on a development strategy of foreign direct investment. However, they are now recognising that this old model has not brought the anticipated results.”
Meanwhile, Chairman of the NDC Youth Movement, Ian Thomas, who is a product of the former National Youth Ambassadors programme spoke on the importance of involving youth in the decision-making process.
Thomas, who represented Grenada as a National Ambassador at many regional forums said the NDC, in recognition that today’s youth are tomorrow’s future has taken a “policy decision to incorporate young fresh minds into the process to move the political organisation forward and to add to the policies that would help us develop to guide the nation.”
He cited a need for youth to be actively involved in the local development process as well as trained to understand the parliamentary process.
Thomas also expressed the view that youth are receiving poor representation at the national level.
“We see that we have one or two persons claiming that they care and love young people and they could only offer them an 18 months training programme. That is not youth representation. We need to bring back the youth parliament to train our youths to be part of the process (so that) they understand the parliamentary democracy and the processes.
We need to get back the youth ambassador’s programme,” he said pointing out that “when you create these programmes you build individuals to be able to take lead positions in other organisations.
He also called for the re-establishment of the Youth Ambassador, Youth Parliament, and all the youth on the block programmes that would help build our country and move it in the direction that we need to go.”
Another highlight event to be staged ahead of GYS is Constitution reform forum carded for the St. George’s University (SGU) on March 21, and is expected to serve as a means to give persons a better understanding of the Constitution reform process.
The Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s has committed itself to the holding of a referendum this year to effect some changes to the 1974 Grenada Constitution document.