The Unity Labour Party (ULP) regime has deceived the youth of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They were promised thousands of jobs but nineteen (19) years after the ULP first gained power, they have failed to deliver on their promise.
During the recent general elections campaign, the New Democratic Party (NDP) presented an impressive programme of job creation and opportunities for our youth. Unfortunately, the youth will not benefit from our programme and will continue to suffer.
The youth supported the NDP because of the high unemployment rate among their ranks. They supported because they were fed up of the ULP. They supported because they were fed up of the victimization and nepotism. They supported because they wanted a lower interest rate on their student loans, and more opportunities to succeed. They supported because they wanted change. They supported because they wanted jobs.
As you traverse this country, the number of young people who are on the ‘block’ unemployed is astonishing. As a matter of fact, the IMF stated that youth unemployment was 46% before COVID -19. The young people are crying out for jobs. Because of the high rate of unemployment and the lack of meaningful opportunities, it is believed that some of them have turned to criminal activities.
The NDP is deeply concerned about the current state of affairs of the youth. The party has developed programmes and policies to create jobs, and to exploit the talent and abilities which these young people possess. We see the talent and energy of the country’s youth as pivotal in the effort to move our beloved country forward. In diverse areas across the board, the NDP will create opportunities for the youth, and support and facilitate their need to succeed, so that they can contribute to building a new St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
We remind Vincentians of our programme for the youth. Had the NDP been in office, the NDP would have increased and diversified the scholarship programme and reduced the interest on student loans. The existing scholarship programme would have been improved to offer a wider variety of opportunities for young people to access higher education, in properly accredited universities and colleges worldwide. Diverse scholarships would have been sourced to encouraged persons to pursue studies in non-traditional areas/disciplines, such as culture, music and sports. Additionally, a non-academic incentive programmes for youth would have been designed and implemented.
The NDP believes that young people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines must be encouraged to identify and believe in their self-worth; programmes must be executed to encourage our youth towards this end.
We would have also implemented and promoted a wide-ranging suite of awards for youth achievement, to serve as inspiration and motivation for other youth. These include: the National Environment Youth Award – a new national programme that would have recognized young people across St. Vincent and the Grenadines for projects and activities that demonstrate their commitment to the environment; The Youth Minister’s Positive Image Awards – a programme to be implemented under the auspices of the minister responsible for youth, to recognize the many people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines who are working towards promoting a more positive image of young people within their schools and communities; the International Award for Youth – an internationally sponsored award for young people between the ages of 14 and 25 years; and the Wave Makers – a programme to be administered through the Youth Department.
In addition, we would have worked to rehabilitate and reintegrate young offenders into mainstream society. An unfortunate mistake made by a young person should not be a life sentence that condemns him or her to hopelessness. Under a new programme to be developed by the NDP, young offenders would have been offered second chances through targeted programmes of technical and vocational training, counselling and rehabilitation.
And towards tackling the problem of youth offenders and the plight of children on the street, the NDP would have worked to improve the ability and capacity of the Social Welfare, Liberty Lodge Boys’ Training Centre and the Family Courts systems to identify and intervene to assist children and youth who are at risk, before their situations become hopeless. Support for this effort would have come through the Social and Spiritual Redemption Charter, which, among other things, would have provided constituted youth organization (Girl Guides, Boys Brigade, etc.) with financial and other material support, to develop and administer programmes that would divert the energies of youth into productive areas.
Moreover, the NDP would have spearheaded the formation of youth committees to be attached to each ministry. These committees would have been the human interface for two-way exchange of information between the ministry and the youth, and would have ensured that the ideas, opinions and viewpoints of our young people are incorporated into policy-making.
And, the NDP government would have encouraged and supported the formation of a Youth Parliament, where young people with an interest in politics would have the opportunity to develop their understanding of the practices and methods of the parliamentary system.
We would have also improved and expanded skills training by utilizing the various resource and community centres around St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and support music education in schools from the earliest level, with a view to establishing a Youth Orchestra and permanent music programme in schools.
These programmes would have benefited the youth had the NDP been in office. We urge you to remain engaged in the political process, so we can bring about the change that is needed. In the recent campaign, your voice was loud and strong, and your courage was inspiring.