Careers & Education

Excluded — Rural and disabled youngsters denied benefit of youth programmes

BY DENISE DENNIS Career & Education staff reporter dennisd@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 21, 2012    

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RURAL and disabled youngsters as well as young homosexuals are not provided for under many youth programmes, according to research done by the Centre of Learning and Governance at the University of the West Indies.

The findings of the gap analysis were made public at an electronic youth programmatic inventory stakeholders' meeting, hosted by the Ministry of Youth at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel on September 12.

The electronic inventory is to be made available on the National Centre for Youth Development website by the end of this month and will contain a database of youth organisations across the island.

Meanwhile, the research — undertaken to examine deficiencies in programmes being offered by the various youth-serving entities on the island — further showed that at-risk youths, such as street children, teenage fathers, school dropouts, youth with mental disorders and incarcerated youth, were not represented in the hierarchy of youth organisations.

In addition to the limited focus on or exclusion from several social groups, the research found, too, that there were gaps in monitoring and evaluation, a lack of resources and resource mobilisation skills, a lack of information management and application tools, and an overlap of programmes offered.

It also discovered that psycho-social issues, such as suicidal tendencies and depression, were not being adequately addressed by existing youth programmes.

Permanent secretary in the youth ministry Robert Martin said he hoped the electronic youth inventory programme will serve to address issues highlighted in the gap analysis.

He explained that the programme will facilitate increased co-ordination among youth-serving organisations, foster greater synergies and eliminate the duplication of efforts among organisations and programmes across the country. This, he said, while also resulting in more efficient use of scarce resources.

"In a nutshell, we want to ensure that credible information is readily available and accessible to all; we want to increase the number of relevant youth intervention programmes; we want to allocate scarce resources in the most critical areas; and we want to do it with all our youth-serving partners [using] a well co-ordinated, multi-sectoral approach," Martin said.

Both the programme and the gap analysis were funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to the tune of $11 million and are being conducted under a joint project by the IDB and the government, which was started in 2009.

The project also includes a national youth survey, a situational analysis on youth and a national youth mainstreaming strategy. The results from these should inform the revision of the national youth policy to be completed by 2013.

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