Friday, August 12, 2022
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Resetting the agenda for the youth

This week we begin our editorial with the good news that the Grenada Olympic Committee (GOC) directors pledged support for the construction of an international swimming pool by committing a donation of EC $132,000.00 to the local association. This newspaper will continue to applaud any effort to better the lives of our youth.

This will most certainly be good news for all especially Deb Eastwood who has come up with a most grand idea to get Grenada swimming by inventing programmes where the lessons will be free. Hundreds of people are now swimming as a result.

It is our hope that the new leaders in government will find ways to strengthen synergies and coordinated action in taking a principled approach and combined effort to enrich the lives of our youth. We most certainly would like to see more Kerryne James in the future. Let her be the beacon. Another area of interest which we hope will be instructive, is that members of the newly installed Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC) recently met face-to-face with heads of governments attending their summit in Kigali. The historic intergenerational dialogue saw young leaders sitting in a circle with prime ministers, presidents, ministers, and heads of delegation from 15 countries, including Rwanda, Canada, The Seychelles, and Samoa.

The Chairman of the Council, Kim Allen from Papua New Guinea, kicked off the conversation with a sharp focus on the Youth Forum Declaration – a proposed action plan for youth-led sustainable development created by more than 350 young people from across the Commonwealth. He called on the leaders to offer the new Council guidance and financial support for their initiatives.

Interspersed among the government leaders, Council members each delivered a special message from the young people in the regions they represent. However, it is not clear whether Grenada as part of the Commonwealth was represented. That was certainly a great opportunity. Maybe with the focus on general elections, interest was lost. We could have benefitted from the focus on the multifaceted challenges facing young Africans, such as education, healthcare, gender equality and unemployment and the passionate call for an enabling environment in which young people can thrive.

The representative for the Caribbean Regional Youth Council Representative, Kendell Vincent, reminded leaders that there are young people from rural communities and minority groups who were not able to sit in the room with them, but who need access to the technology to participate in the conversation. While he highlighted the need for digital transformations this newspaper wants to see greater interest in such discussions.  

Creating holistic education programmes and curriculum that will prepare young people for the changing landscape of work should seriously be looked at. There is definitely the need for reimaging what education can look like. Easy access to climate finance needed to build resilient infrastructure so that businesses can focus on growth and employment instead of rebuilding again and again was another area looked at. As the president of Rwanda said leaders must continue to listen to and work with young people. We see this as getting a buy-in from the youth in finding solutions to today’s challenges.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada said we don’t need the youth to be leaders of tomorrow. We need them to be the leaders today who should be directly contributing to the policies and positions of the Commonwealth.

The Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa in addressing the participants made the revelation that Governments can no longer do things by themselves, whether even though they thought they could. What is very informative is that there is growing acknowledgment that governments are not enough. In going forward, there is the need to ensure all of society is involved.

An area that may normally be overlooked is the need to engage young people in politics. This was highlighted by Seychelles President H E Wavel Ramkalawan.

Maybe as we look back at the recent campaigning for general elections here, we would realise that it seems that a significant number of our young people have become disconnected with the politics and could not supply a sensible reason for voting for this or that party even though they voted

Secretary-General Patricia Scotland made the very interesting point that the time has come to reset the agenda, for us to start to reimagine what our world could be, what our world should be, and who should be involved in shaping it for us all. She Heaped praises on the young people for speaking on behalf of the billions of youths in the Commonwealth.

During the meeting, it was announced that Pakistan would be hosting the Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting in Pakistan in January 2023. It is our hope that our leaders will place that high on their agenda. By then our new Minister of Youth would have settled down in the office. The dialogue was the last youth-led event in a week of activities leading up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

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