The National Youth Council (NYC) plans to initiate the recommencement of a revision of the National Youth Policy with the aim of addressing several pertinent issues affecting youths locally.
General Secretary Wendell Bertrande told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) in a recent interview that while there hasn’t been much public discussion as of recent in relation to the policy, the council has been looking at ways it can help to restructure the policy to suit the current situation.
Bertrande told SNO that issues relating to the policy were debated at the National Youth Parliament last year. Several important recommendations were made towards improving the policy.
“Currently it is still in its draft format, but I believe it is something that the National Youth Council and the Ministry of Youth need to champion, to revise it, to bring it to life and to speak to the many challenges that are affecting us currently,” he stated.
Areas that will receive greater attention in the revised youth policy are: the high unemployment rate among youth, education and the need for more skills training, improving the literacy level of youths, and looking at ways to address the crime situation on the island.
Bertrande emphasised that there is a greater need for skills training and suggested expansion of training in this area.
“It is a very important aspect in youth development, especially for a society like ours. I believe there isn’t much emphasis on it,” he added.
The youth ambassador pointed to one such area, where technical and vocational training is to some extent being minimized. He said the Vieux Fort Technical School which offered technical training will now be transformed into a fully-fledged school this September.
Bertrande told SNO that before the implementation of Universal Secondary Sducation there was greater emphasis then as opposed to now, where focus is placed purely on academics.
The general secretary stated that while there may be greater opportunities for high academic studies, the same must be done for skills and technical training. This way, youths will be allowed the opportunity to receive training in whatever area they chose and be able to get jobs.
St. Lucia had drafted a youth policy in 2000. There is a 2012-2017 youth and sports plan. There have been many debates about the usefulness of the current youth policy.