agenda for youth
important is youth development in the national trust? To
date, as a society, have we recorded the weight of youth
impact on our society, be it positive or negative?
What is even more compelling is the fact that youth now
account for approximately 65 per cent of the population.
By youth we refer to those individuals between the ages
12 to 29 years who are becoming independent of parents and
learning to master the biological, psychological, political,
economic and social changes associated with this period
of transition (National Youth Policy).
Having taken note of our constituents, we will realise that
a greater emphasis is required by the powers that be in
the realisation of systematic youth development.
This is said against the backdrop of a seeming upsurge of
negative youth impact on our society. This, we should add,
is as a result of the system being unable to plug loopholes,
which creates the risk environment. We must, as a society,
develop mechanisms that open as many positive doors as possible
for our youth to direct their energy.
Sadly, we the youth of today would have taken serious note
of the gang warfare on the Brian Lara Promenade, one of
many recent instances involving youth in crime. This is
a situation for which all systems must work assiduously
to curtail, as some of our youth in their prime seem to
be on a path of irreparable self and societal destruction.
Additionally, we have seen where a UWI student, being unable
to cope with the pressures of life, committed suicide on
the St Augustine Campus.
What about other youth in our midst who have suffered and
continue to suffer abuse and neglect?
We are well aware of the high school dropouts, juvenile
delinquency, unscrupulous sexual activities, and drug situation
amongst the teenage population.
Furthermore, our many organisations can interpret and provide
information on a multiplicity of uncanny youth involvement
in risky behaviour, which has far-reaching implications
for their private/individual and national development.
The PNM National Youth League wishes to register its concern
on the matter of youth development, with particular reference
to T&T as a developing society. We wish to make a statement
that distinguishes ours from that of society.
We wish to categorically state that the problems of society
and the topic at handyouthis not a political
or governmental problem. It is a societal problem for which
we all have to take some communal responsibility. A problem
for which the resolution can be to our profit or detriment,
depending on our treatment with the current wave of messages
It is a concern which transcends the everyday paranoia of
the next generation syndrome, which speaks to the quasi-development
of youth, as every Tom and Jerry paint a glorious picture
of youth as the future, but in essence refuse to actionise
Many are the frustrations of youth organisations and leaders
alike as they pursue avenues for the advancement of their
membership so as to fully utilise or activate a common principle
which seeks to interpret in a meaningful and holistic manner
the role of youth.
The PNM National Youth League is fully aware that in many
quarters of our society leaders and others in authority
are unaware of and naive to the extent of ignorance about
the youth situation in T&T.
Moreover, it is felt that the authorities of whom much is
required in addressing youth development can be likened
to virgins without lamps.
It is against this backdrop that we place into focus the
significance of issues such as increasing poverty, drug
abuse, HIV/Aids, violence, child abuse, crime, teenage pregnancy,
street children, and mental disabilities as some of the
serious challenge facing youth.
Youth require urgent attention and are in dire need of a
listening ear and a sense of hope.
What role, if any, can the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs
We believe that the ministry would do well to inform the
national community of its vision for youth, its programmes
of activities and the impact on the youth community. To
this end we will be liaising with the ministry to bring
such information to readers in future articles.
Additionally, it would be in the interest of all to establish
in the mind of the citizenry the measurability and assessment
mechanism available to gauge results and value for money
when making an investment in the youth capital of our country.
Furthermore, as one explores the youth challenge in T&T,
the realisation is that a multiplicity of factors are involved
and contribute to the youth expression of today being a
It is of paramount importance that attention be placed on
issues such as education, the school system, unemployment/underemployment,
recreational activities, gender relations and HIV/Aids as
We believe that in many respects our system is incapacitated
and unable to facilitate the meaningful and practical development
As such, in the main, the system contributes to the sundry
negative impacts by its inability to merge the diversities
of youth. Our Chambers, churches, businesses need to be
incorporated in a holistic approach.
However, T&T needs the creation of innovative initiatives
that seek to contribute to the enhancement of youth as present
and future capital through mutually beneficial participation
in service and the exposure to life-learning experiences.
The PNM youth membership believes that an enhanced citizen
status of young people will only be useful if youth are
of the impression that they can participate meaningfully
in the political, social and economic life of the country,
in line with the objectives of national development towards
a 2020 vision.
We commend the Government on its vast programme of training,
retraining and educationfor which millions are investedas
a representation of giving priority to youth development.
However, we call for a clearer and articulated agenda towards
youth affairs, given the volatile youth situation.
Our country would do well to have all sectors of the society
practise what is preached by letting go and letting youth
be the future from which the present is formed.
Contact NYL with comments at [email protected]
or Editorial Committee, National Youth League, Balisier
House, #1 Tranquillity St, Port-of-Spain.
Joel Primus is chairman of the PNMs National Youth