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9,500 adolescents in Saint Lucia are poor — “landmark” UNICEF study reveals

By UNICEF Office for the Eastern Caribbean Area

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(PRESS RELEASE) — A landmark study on adolescents in Saint Lucia, developed by the Government of Saint Lucia and UNICEF, have identified several concerns for this key demographic, which represents 16 per cent of the country’s population.

The ‘Adolescent Well-being and Equity in Saint Lucia’ study, which was released last week, provides an up-to-date and comprehensive snapshot of the social, economic and educational lives of adolescents, their well-being and any inequities and injustices they face.

Saint Lucia is the first country in the eastern Caribbean to undertake such a detailed assessment of the critical 10-19 age group.

The research highlights several areas of concern. Poverty remains significant and although it decreased in the last decade, nearly 1 in 3 adolescents is still poor; that’s about 9,500 young people. In addition, data show that a third of adolescents are not in education, employment or training (NEET) and the great majority of those over the school age are unemployed.

While the education system consistently achieves high school attendance rates, just 36 per cent of students pass Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and there is a substantial mismatch between the educational needs of employers and the qualifications of job seekers. Over 40 per cent of job openings require post-secondary qualifications, which are held by less than 10 per cent of those seeking work.

Almost 60 per cent of adolescents live with one biological parent (mostly mothers). This already high prevalence of single-parent families is increasing. A positive development is the reduction, by 30 per cent, of the adolescent pregnancy rate in the last decade, although the figure is still relatively high. Two thirds of young adolescents having experienced violent discipline in their home, more than half of it physical.

The study however highlights that a great deal of progress has been made and recent policy and legislative reforms have positively impacted adolescents. For example, on November 20, 2018, the Government of Saint Lucia passed the Child Justice Bill and the Children Care, Protection and Adoption Bill. Their passage was a crucial step to operationalize the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and can help address the neglect, abuse, exploitation and violence affecting young people.

Ministry of Equity, Social Justice, Empowerment and Local Government Leonard Montoute pledged that government will use the rich source of data in the report to help plan polices for the country’s young people who face challenges which previous generation of adolescents did not have to contemplate.

“Despite living in an era that is laden with opportunities for personal advancement, the risk that the ordinary Saint Lucia youth is currently faced with is equally unprecedented, and in most cases outweighs the opportunities. At the core of this turbulent period of development for each and every youth, is the issue of decisions, be it positive, negative or making no decision at all,” the minister added.

Dr Aloys Kamuragiye, representative for the UNICEF’s Office for the Eastern Caribbean Area, said the report compels action.

“The task going forward will be for all actors — government, private sector, academia, development partners, non-governmental organizations, and parents – to understand and ensure that the second decade of life for our young people is their first window of opportunity, and that we can work together successfully to address their needs,” he added.

In addition to providing data needed for monitoring progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, both the Ministry of Equity and UNICEF expect the findings from this study to help policy makers, government, NGOs, and advocacy organizations to identify marginalized adolescents, take appropriate policy and programme decisions, prioritize investments and motivate additional data collection, analysis and research.

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6 comments

  1. Very serious issues for the adolescents to deal with. Low academic achievement. Very little opportunity for growth and development, a political system based on victimization and ego, perceived corruption in high office..................Our youths deserve better!

    They are our future parents and leaders! Wake up St. Lucia!

    (14)(2)
    • What the hell has police activity to do with poverty? Good Lord! You have an axe to grind. And worse: you just palavered the expected crap. You did not offer a damn solution. You are just simply, part of the damn problem.

      (2)(8)
    • Perceived!

      When you have a "not too smart PM" who is a persistent liar (proven in the court of law and every time he opens his mouth)

      A teething Minister of Infrastructure.

      Minster in the ministry of Finance persistently fraternising young girls.

      An ex PM who was trying to be bribed by the current teething Minster however didn't have the balls to report that bribery.

      A PM who gives away/gifts/donates loads to foreign investors (supposed) however gives nothing back to his sorry the people of St Lucia.

      Makes suggestions of growing the cocoa industry however gives NO INCENTIVES to the people. Why not lease them land at $1 an acre for 99 years like he did another supposed foreign investor.

      The list is endless. What hope do the young people of St Lucia have with leaders of questionable characters like the current cabinet!

      LUCIANZ open your eyes and ears.

      (1)(0)
  2. Adults less sense, elected to put some adolescents into the parliament. Which administration failed them?

    If we learn anything from the state of the world today, it is this one thing. Elections have consequences.

    (6)(2)
  3. Wow, i knew the youth were suffering but this paints a horrid picture.....

    (8)(1)

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