JA delegation articulates youth priorities at Commonwealth Youth Ministers conference

A Jamaican delegation to the recently concluded Ninth Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (CYMM) in Kampala, Uganda, headed by Floyd Green, Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MOEYI) has committed to keeping youth issues at the centre of public policy.

The Jamaican delegation comprised Minister Green, Senior Director Youth and Adolescents Policy at the MOEYI, Mrs. Michele Small Bartley, Mr. Gihon Mitchell, president, Jamaica Professional Youth Workers Association and Russell Barrett, Youth Advisory Council Member. In different sessions, outlined a range of programmes and activities that are being undertaken locally.

Under the theme of the conference “Resourcing and Financing Youth Development: Empowering Young People” discussions were centred on innovative ways to obtain funding and partnership for youth development within each country. Additionally, mechanisms used to strengthen youth development practices within each country were explored. 

In his presentation, Mr. Green emphasised that youth development was at the top of the Jamaican government’s agenda adding that concerted efforts were being made to enhance youth participation, establish and strengthen innovation hubs and “ensure youth mainstreaming across Ministries.”

He cited the input made by the newly formed Youth Advisory Council in the formulation of national policies and members input on various boards, as well as the re-establishment of the National Youth Parliament as examples of giving young people primacy of place in the national agenda. The Minister also emphasized the evidence-based approach to formulating policies related to youth. 

The Minister also referred to the support given to the professionalisation of youth work. "We have made significant strides in enabling the professionalisation of youth work. First, the establishment of an association that seeks to train and assist in the development and strengthening of the competences of those working with youth,” he told the delegates including ministers and senior officials from 32 countries. “Additionally, as a Ministry we have ensured that all our Youth Empowerment Officers are trained in youth work, as we know that youth are at a developmental stage that requires specific competence to treat with," he said.  

In a separate session among senior officials, Mrs Small Bartley updated the meeting on Jamaica's youth development strategies by providing information on the National Youth Policy, the strategic merger of HEART-Trust, NYS and JFLL as a means to further amplifying the youth reach in terms of employment and training. Information about the LEGS and HOPE programmes were also highlighted as avenues to entrepreneurship, training and building core skills. 

In the Stakeholders Forum Gihon Mitchell also presented on the professionalisation of youth work, its origin and its progress over the years. Russell Barrett passionately articulated the role of the Youth Advisory Council and the benefits it has brought to young people in being a part of the decision making at the national level. 

The conference ended with a communiqué that was supported by each country and commitments to support on-going programmes, while exploring new mechanisms for financing and resourcing youth development and the creation of an innovation hub within the Commonwealth Secretariat to lead empowerment of young people across countries.  

The Government of Jamaica has offered to host the 10th Commonwealth Youth Ministers' Meeting in 2021.