Jul 22, 2013 Letters
Youth Minister Dr. Frank Anthony disappointed young people on July 17th as he failed to show up at a youth consultation to engage youth on the formation of a National Youth Council for Guyana. The Steering Committee changed the scheduled consultation from last Saturday (July 13th) to ensure the Minister or a representative from the Ministry is present to observe the process and be part of the consultation.
The consultation which was dubbed “First youth consultation” and organised by a steering committee of seven Guyanese youth, attracted a wide cross section of young people, youth groups and organisations, political youth groups, volunteers, a representative of UNICEF and the Acting Regional Director for the Commonwealth Youth Programme Regional Office for the Caribbean, which is located here in Guyana. The event also saw the presence of a representative of the Trinidad Youth Council who shared his organisation’s experience in starting up a Youth Council in the Twin Island Republic.
The Minister was engaged over a month to confirm his attendance but at the last minute he communicated to the group that he would otherwise be engaged on Saturday and would be available on Wednesday. The Steering Committee was fooled into believing the Minister was interested in their development when he chose to be present at the cricket rather than gracing the consultation with his presence. The Youth Ministry’s Permanent Secretary; Mr. Alfred King as well as the Director of Youth; Ms. Glenna Toney who also said they would have been unavailable on Saturday because of prior engagements but promised to be present if the event was rescheduled to Wednesday were also a no show. No apologies were sent by the Ministry.
The result was a complete no show of any Youth Ministry representative. Guyana is one of a few countries in the Caribbean without a National Youth Policy and by extension a National Youth Council. It would be recalled that after the 1992 elections, the PPP administration disbanded the National Service, which was mandatory for young people and promised to replace it with a National Youth Policy to ensure active involvement of young people in governance and decision making.
The Ministry has spent millions of US dollars on consultations and hiring of consultants but none has borne fruit. The last two attempts of drafting a Youth Policy failed as Dr. Anthony rejected both documents, stating in parliament that they were substandard. The delay in the passing of a National Youth Policy has angered many young people and has led to two youth protesting in 2011 to highlight the issue during the observance of UN designated “International Year of Youth 2010-2011”. The two youngsters were invited by Mr. Alfred King who promised that under the UNDP-EPTSI project, this would have been fulfilled. The UNDP-EPTSI project ended two years ago and the National Youth Policy is still an unfulfilled promise by the PPP government to young people. The Commonwealth Youth Programme has recently pledged to make the policy a reality, but this is yet to be seen.
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