Youth and Adolescents Policy Division

The Youth and Adolescent Policy Division operates within Jamaica’s Ministry of Education and Youth. The YAPD has core responsibility for the development, implementation and the management of policies and programmes, that will seek to foster care, provided non-formal education and training for Jamaican youth aged 15-29 years. The Division promotes youth development and empowerment through:

  • Strengthening the legislative and policy framework of the youth development portfolio
  • Empowering our youth through leadership, mentorship and volunteerism.
  • Providing young people with the tools to be competitive both locally and globally.
  • Facilitating alternative avenues for self-employment and financial independence for the youth and the population in general.
  • Identifying, providing information or facilitating the creation of opportunities for the unattached youth

A Dynamic Department operating under the Ministry with responsibility for Youth Affairs; leading, supporting and facilitating mechanisms that ensure the optimum development of all young people, enabling them to compete globally and regionally, while contributing to national development.

To enable positive youth development through policy initiatives, programming actions and youth participation; partnering with stakeholders to ensure inclusiveness and collaboration of efforts to address all aspects of youth development. Advocating for relevant services, identify opportunities for growth and development, access to facilities & amenities, disseminate information and promoting non-discriminatory actions toward all young people.

The YAPD policies and programmes include:

The YAPD operates eleven (11) Youth Innovation Centres (YICs) island wide. YICs provide an innovative, responsive, youth-friendly space for harnessing the talents and creative potential of Jamaica’s young people. YICs utilise positive youth development approaches to build self, while positioning youth for wealth creation and active citizenship.

YICs offer a suite of programmes and services that are free of cost to the end user, utilise new and emerging technologies and seek to connect youth with labour market opportunities. Through YICs, youth are able to access:

  • Internet and modern technology
  • Job search and resume writing assistance
  • Career counselling
  • Entrepreneurship training
  • School and homework support
  • Printing and photocopying services
  • Performing arts and sports programmes
  • Basic counselling and referrals
  • Empowerment and outreach sessions
  • Sexual and reproductive health counselling

The National Youth Policy (2017) focuses on six (6) main tenets and priority areas for youth development;

  • Education & Training
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Youth Employment & Entrepreneurship
  • Youth Participation
  • Social Inclusion & Re-integration
  • Institutional & Youth Sector Arrangements


Implementation of the National Youth Policy is executed through the following core programme components:

  1. Youth Innovation Centres
  2. Student Governance Programme
  3. Community Youth Participation
  4. Youth leadership
  5. Commemorative Youth activities

The National Secondary Students’ Council was established in 1975, through a policy brought before government in 1973. This policy came as a response to the growing demand for effective student representation and the need for students’ involvement in the decision making process of schools at the all levels. As student advocacy saw tremendous growth in Jamaica in the 1970’s, student governance received legitimacy through the Education Act of 1980.

The Education Act of 1980 stated that:

 “every public education institution shall have a students’ council, which shall consist of elected representatives of students with at least one staff advisor, elected by students.”

The Act also outlined that “through the student councils at the secondary and tertiary levels the student shall have the right to –

  • Democratically elect their representatives;
  • Have representation on the board of the institution;
  • Meet with the principal, and staff or both, on any matter affecting the students’ interest

The programme was revamped in 2003 under the leadership of the Director of the National Centre for Youth Development and currently represents 165 secondary schools and over 300,000 secondary students. The NSSC continues its representation of Jamaica’s students with the guiding philosophy, “responsible students make the difference”.

The Jamaica Union of Tertiary Students (JUTS) has been organised at a national level since 1972, by the government, in its democratisation plan within the education system.

The JUTS can be described as a democratic, independent, non-profit, non-sectarian and non-partisan student organisation comprising a confederation of local student representative organisations in colleges and universities across Jamaica. It represents and defends the interests of approximately 25, 000 students from 22 tertiary institutions.

The JUTS is a member of the International Union of Students (IUS)

Our Motto: Building a nation through student representation.

The JUTS also strives to fulfil its Mission Statement:
To represent the tertiary and the young adult population of Jamaica with professional stability locally and internationally while promoting and maintaining their educational, social, cultural and general interests.


The Jamaica Youth Ambassadors Programme (JaYAP) was established in 2000 by the Youth Division of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information as a strategy to promote youth advocacy and facilitate youth participation in decision-making processes. Since 2000, the JaYAP has produced a number of youth leaders, who have offered representation of Jamaican youth issues at the national, regional and international levels.


YAs have the responsibility of advocating for and educating young people as per issues defined through consultations at CARICOM Youth Ambassadors Programme, the Commonwealth Youth Programme and the UN General Assembly. YAs also bring national issues to the attention of policy makers and planners at the Regional/international level though the coordination/collation of data relating to youth issues at the national level.

The National Youth Council of Jamaica is the umbrella organisation for youth clubs across Jamaica, which seeks to foster youth participation at the community level, and advocate for youth participation in all levels of governance through providing assistance in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of government policy regarding youth.


Membership is open to any youth organization provided that:

  • It is non-partisan;
  • It is voluntary;
  • It has a minimum of fifteen members exclusive of the Executive;
  • Seventy-five percent of its members are between the ages of 15 and 29
  • It has an elected executive;
  • It has a set of rules and regulations consistent with the Council’s constitution, and
  • The main focus of the organization is promotion of youth interest and development.

Please note that by the term “Youth Club” or “Youth Organization”, we refer to the following groups: non-political community youth clubs, sports clubs, faith-based organizations, uniformed youth organizations, special interest youth groups, or civic youth groups.


The Youth Advisory Council of Jamaica (YACJ) is intended to facilitate continuous engagement of young people in youth development policy and programming actions of the Government of Jamaica. The YACJ is one structure geared towards the fulfilment of the Goal VI of the CARICOM Youth Development Goals (CYDGs), which seeks to ensure and enhance youth participation in all levels of decision-making, programme implementation and oversight.

In this respect, the YACJ will work to mainstream the needs of youth through Government of Jamaica (GOJ) programmes and activities during all phases of programme development, implementation and evaluation. The YACJ is also a Steering Committee for the National Youth Parliament, toward ensuring that the deliberations of the parliament are presented to, and discussed with relevant decision-makers.


The YACJ is structured to ensure that youth are provided with an avenue for full participation in decision-making processes as equal and valuable partners. To this end, the YACJ aims to:

  1. Provide support to the GOJ in mainstreaming youth issues into national policies and development strategies in order to create spaces and opportunities for empowering young people and giving recognition, visibility and credibility to the contributions of youth;
  2. Develop partnerships between the GOJ and young people, to solicit and integrate youth views and priorities, and collaborate with youth in setting up projects and programmes to address their needs, concerns and requirements of youth;
  3. Monitor and evaluate projects targeting and involving young people and promote research on youth development;
  4. Promote the presence of youth on GOJ Boards, as well as in workshops, meetings and conferences organised by the GOJ and its partners;
  5. Act as a clearing house of information concerning youth, towards updating member organisations on opportunities and initiatives in various sectors of government for youth development.

The YACJ is being coordinated with the intent to facilitate dialogue between young people and all GOJ Ministries, Departments and Agencies. For the period 2016-2017, the council will focus on the achievement of its objectives in relation to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, and its departments and agencies. The work of the YACJ will subsequently be expanded to consider policies and programmes in other ministries.

Expected Outcomes

  1. Youth have a stronger voice, and are better served by the Government with more robust and youth-friendly policies and programmes;
  2. Youth fully participate in democratic and development processes, and play active roles in civil society.
  3. Youth are aware of and are better able to access economic and social opportunities, share in economic growth, live healthy lives, and contribute to household, community, and national well-being.

Overview of the National Youth Parliament of Jamaica (NYPJ) 

The National Youth Parliament of Jamaica (NYPJ) was started in November 2003 as a non-partisan initiative aimed at providing youth from across Jamaica with a forum to express their views, network and debate issues of concern in the House of Representatives. The Parliament has traditionally been hosted as part of the slate of activities for National Youth Month celebrations in Jamaica, with the most recent sitting being in November 2019.

The NYPJ is structured to provide an opportunity for youth to deepen their understanding of parliamentary democracy, while developing skills in research, policy formulation and analysis, advocacy, public speaking and communication. 

The NYPJ involves a yearly programme of activities, to include, orientation, training, local and regional meetings, dialogue with Ministers and Opposition spokespersons, and provide avenues for youth inputs and consultation in policy and programme development. 


The National Youth Parliament is structured to:

  • Encourage active citizenship among youth and promote involvement in democracy and governance;
  • Analyse and provide feedback from a youth perspective on statements, ministry papers, green papers and bills before the Houses of Parliament;
  • Promote youth mainstreaming into national policies, strategies and programmes.

The Prime Minister’s National Youth Awards Ceremony for Excellence was introduced in 1998 by the Most Honourable P.J. Patterson. The Award recognises youth who have excelled and contributed to national development, and seeks to provide a platform for youth to showcase their achievements in various fields. Each recipient must meet the eligibility criteria of 15-24 years as of the end of December of the year the award is granted. The Prime Minister’s National Youth Award is the highest national honour bestowed on Jamaicans between the ages of 15 and 24 years. 

Since the inception of the Prime Minister’s National Youth Awards for Excellence in 1998, one hundred and sixty-five (165) awards have been conferred. Awards have been conferred upon young Jamaicans who have achieved eminent National and international distinction in the categories of:

  • Sports
  • Youth In Service
  • The Arts and Culture
  • Academics
  • Agriculture
  • Leadership
  • Journalism
  • Entrepreneurship

The Awards was originally conceptualised as part of the Values and Attitudes Campaign. To this end, the Awards seeks to promote attitudinal change and social renewal, through reinforcing the positive values of self-discipline, hard work, dedication and humility. The Awards portrays each recipient as a positive role model for their peers as they transition from childhood to adulthood.

Jamaica’s youth population constitutes the most important and productive resources for national development. It is against this background that the Prime Minister’s Youth Awards for Excellence seeks to recognize and encourage some of the many young Jamaicans who continue to achieve and make outstanding contributions to national development.

The Award

The award that the young achievers will be presented with is a 68” obelisk pyramid made of onyx, and mounted on a 4” base. Onyx is used because it is a rare stone, and geologically, no two stones are the same. This is in recognition of the uniqueness of each individual’s achievement. The pyramid itself is tapering, and is selected in recognition of each recipient’s climb to the top of their field, and is symbolic of them being on top of the world.

See the link for further details regarding the application form process.