Youth Month forgotten again?

Are young people really a priority? (Photo by Bill Mortley)

If you don’t know what’s going on for Youth Month then don’t panic, you’re not the only one.  An official calendar of activities has not yet been released.  The Department of Youth and Sports expects to have an approved calendar before the week is out.

Director of Youth and Sports Victor Reid told the STAR: “For this year we have a number of activities planned.  There’s an Inspirational Celebration of Youth to be held at the Vigie Multipurpose Complex on April 14.  We’re also launching a television program and newsletter.  The program will officially be released later this week.  We have about four or five main activities for the month,” he said.

Youth Awards is not part of the calendar because, as Reid explained, he is meeting with a National Youth Council representative to discuss pushing the awards ceremony to later in the year.

For those who are unaware or it may have slipped their mind, April is Youth Month and has been designated as Youth Month for more than a decade. Christmas is in December.  Nobel Laureate week is in January.  Independence is in February.  Carnival is in July.  Budget is in April.  Easter is in April.  Why is it so difficult to remember Youth Month?  Every political party in St Lucia campaigns on a youth platform.  Is it just lip service?

Sources indicate the Minister with responsibility for Social Transformation, Youth and Sports met with the Youth and Sports Department on Wednesday to discuss the activities for Youth Month.  Further, he will also met with representatives from the National Youth Council separately on Wednesday as well.

Although there are divisions between policy makers and operational departments in government, the fact is, those at the top stratum will always have to answer when things go badly but they also enjoy the victory when there’s a triumph.  As such, those in authority have to stand firm and take the unpopular decisions their subordinates and colleagues will castigate them for, knowing in the end it is going to redound to the well being of society. It appears in recent years Youth Month is a fly by night experience-a rushed program, passing the buck, lack of luster and an overall unenthusiastic experience.  Youth Month is to celebrate the nation’s young people.  It is the one time of the year when you hear the word “youth” and you don’t run for cover.  Society is quick to lambaste and label young people for the negative actions of a few but slow to praise and give credit where credit is due.  Why haven’t the NGO’s who promote youth development not taken the relevant authorities to task for what can be considered gross neglect of the youth?  One cannot recall the last time the Labour Party Youth Organization has spoken out on youth issues.  Does the ruling party even have a youth arm? Yet, on the campaign trail, everyone is quick to empathize with the plight of young people.

On the topic of youth issues, all issues in society are youth issues.  The NYC has a new executive charged with revamping the youth umbrella movement and hopefully they will prove their mettle in educating St Lucians that every policy, every law, every decision any government makes, affects the young people of this country.

Successive governments focus heavily on infrastructure but have downplayed human resource development.  They all speak about it but their words have yet to materialize.  It is always easier to build multipurpose facilities and schools than to develop the capacity of an individual to enable them to fully appreciate and utilize the infrastructure.

RISE St Lucia Inc submitted a proposal to Cabinet for a National Youth Service in 2008 but not much has been heard of it since then.  At a Commonwealth Youth Minister’s meeting in the Bahamas in 2006, it was agreed by all parties that member states would commit to “develop and strengthen youth ministries, departments, national youth policies, and legislative and constitutional provisions impacting on youth affairs.” Development is not reserved solely for governments.  It is for the entire country.

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