Thank You for Making #CYDC2015 a Success!

50/50 Youth is grateful to all those who contributed research papers, reflections on practice and concept notes to the inaugural Caribbean Youth Development Conference (CYDC) which was held at the UWI Regional Headquarters from 30th September to 2nd October, 2015. Your contributions enabled a wide range of stakeholders – Ministers of Youth, Permanent Secretaries in Ministries of Youth Affairs, Directors of Youth, Regional Youth Leaders, National Youth Leaders, community youth representatives, academics and youth workers – to think critically about the directions for sustainable development in the Caribbean. Among the commitments made by delegates are agreements to:

  1. Ensure that each country has an evidence-based youth policy, formulated through a youth participatory process and which is implemented via participatory youth projects and programmes
  1. Strengthen Youth Governance Structures (particularly National Youth Councils in each country), including in capacity for evidence-based engagement in development work
  1. Ensure effective regional monitoring and oversight of youth-specific elements of development agendas – (including a ministerial monitoring mechanism; a strengthened regional youth division in CARICOM; and strengthened youth capacity for regional oversight – CRYC, CYAP etc)

In the coming weeks, 50/50 Youth will release the details of these and other recommendations of the conference as a part of a Regional Agenda of Priority Actions for Research, Policies and Programmes for Caribbean Youth, Post 2015. We anticipate that various stakeholders in the sustainable development process will take responsibilities for specific actions which will contribute to positive youth development outcomes. For our part, 50/50 Youth will advance the evidence-based elements of the agenda, including actions related to training, mentorship and participatory youth development research.

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NEW SALISES PUBLICATION: Special Issue on Children

Please do check out the latest Special Issue of Social and Economic Studies (SES), edited by Aldrie Henry-Lee. Against the background of the 25th Anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) which was celebrated in 2014, this timely collection of papers entitled: “Reflections on adherence to Child Rights in the Caribbean” offers discussion on various aspects of the situation of children in relation to:

  • awareness of child rights;
  • violence against children;
  • children’s play;
  • rights to participation; and
  • social rights to education and health services.
Reflections on Adherence to Child Rights in the Caribbean

Reflections on Adherence to Child Rights in the Caribbean

The collection includes pieces presented at the Caribbean Child Research Conference which has been hosted by SALISES since 2006 under the Chairmanship of Dr. Henry-Lee. To secure your copy, please contact ses@uwimona.edu.jm 

The First Draft of the CYDC Programme

Please visit our Conference website to view the Draft Programme for the upcoming Caribbean Youth Development Conference. We have an exciting line up of presenters scheduled.

http://www.uwi.edu/salises/pdf/YouthConf/FirstPublicDraftCYDCProgramme31-05-2015.pdf

We are likely to have to make some adjustments to this First Draft before September but all updated versions of the programme will be posted to the website.

Hope to see you there!

Did you notice our new logo? :-)

FINAL 50-50 Youth LogoWe are really excited about our new logo because it was designed by Caribbean youth and it is a vibrant reflection of the history and objectives of 50/50 Youth – that is, RESEARCH towards ACTION, through PARTNERSHIP.

It was designed by a brother/sister duo – Tamaisha Eytle and Kaiel Eytle – who enjoy lending their skills in the media arts to non-profit organisations, especially those with a youth focus.

Kaiel is a Filmmaker and Director of Photography by trade, but has dabbled for over 15 year in graphic and web design.

Kaiel IMDB-BW

Filmmaker. Cinematographer. Dreamer

Tamaisha specialises in non-profit organizational development with an emphasis on the integration of communication technologies for effective non-profit management.

Innovator. Project Manager. Change Facilitator

Together they work collaboratively on many initiatives both in Jamaica and the Caribbean. They see themselves as true CARICOM nationals, having being born in Guyana and lived in Jamaica.

Click on their names above to find out more about them! 

President Barack Obama – A Study in Leadership and Communication

Barack Obama is undoubtedly a great communicator! His discussion with a group of Young Caribbean Leaders, at a Town Hall Meeting, yesterday afternoon was a good example of his skills in engaging with diversity.

During his historic visit to Jamaica, en route to the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama, President Obama requested a meeting with young leaders to “hear their views”. I was honoured to have been invited to participate. With an over 3 hour waiting period (including a long security queue), Tessanne Chin and Agent Sasko helped to prepare a wonderful atmosphere for the President’s arrival from his meeting with the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) at the UWI Regional Headquarters. 

On his arrival at the Assembly Hall of the UWI Mona, the Town Hall audience erupted in loud applause and screams of delight as he shook hands and waved to participants.

Check out clips from the Jamaica Gleaner’s  YouTube video (published, 9th April, 2015), “Greetings Massive! Obama addresses Jamaican youths“. (You may even see a few familiar #5050Youth faces! :-))

The Town Hall began with a short statement by Obama in which he greeted the group in true Jamaican style; discussed his administration’s focus on partnership with youth, human rights and justice; and announced two very significant areas of support to youth development in the region. These are:

  1. A US$68 million programme of support for education, training and employment programmes for young people from marginalised communities and disadvantaged circumstances in Central America and the Caribbean.
    Obama YLAI
  2. The new Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) which will provide up to 250 fellowship opportunities annually for young entrepreneurs and civil society activists from Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States. The fellowships will offer mentorship, network-building and funding to advance businesses and ideas. The full programme will begin in 2016 but a pilot will begin this year with 24 entrepreneurs involved in technology-based initiatives. Click the name of the programme above for more information from the White House on this initiative.

These are great initiatives and #5050Youth hopes to be able to document the experiences of those who will be participating!

After his statement, there was a “Question and Answer” period in which Obama demonstrated a keenness to listen to and engage young leaders in frank discussion, on any issue. Taking off his jacket and rolling up his shirt sleeves, he encouraged participants to pose questions with “no rules”. Students, entrepreneurs, civil society activists and academics used the opportunity to ask the President about inter alia:

  • China’s influence and investment in the Caribbean region;
  • The US immigration policies and implications for Caribbean people seeking to migrate;
  • Managing mental stress as a leader;
  • The changing Cuba-US relationship and implications for the Caribbean Community’s relationship with Cuba;
  • Promoting social change and individual activism;
  • The US federal perspective on the decriminalisation and legalisation of marijuana in Caribbean countries;
  • His lessons-learnt from the 2009 Presidential Campaign; and
  • Jamaica and Caribbean countries’ management of IMF structural adjustment programmes and issues of debt forgiveness.

In response to each question, even those which inappropriately sought to encourage him to advise Caribbean and other countries on their own policy decisions, President Obama demonstrated diplomatic aplomb and humility in advancing his ideas, without criticising others in an arrogant way. He shared his personal and professional experiences; what he has learned in policy-making and leadership; and his ideas on how we can all contribute to lasting positive social change and economic development, globally.

While some of those in the Assembly Hall were not as young as would have been expected and some of the young people were not, in fact, from the Caribbean; undoubtedly for all involved, it was a truly memorable experience!

For me, the occasion was one of excitement, education, inspiration and sober reflection. The priority given by President Obama to a discussion with young people – even with a tight schedule – is instructive. Isn’t it time for this kind of leadership in the Caribbean?  Chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister Perry Christie, apparently said, during the regional meeting with Obama, that the Community places great importance on better outcomes for youth as critical partners in sustainable development. However, when last have CARICOM Heads of Government engaged young leaders in discussion? Isn’t it time for better communication?

Watch the entire Young Leaders Town Hall with President Barack Obama on the White House You Tube Channel here: https://youtu.be/XwLjtyyVfEY (It starts around 58:00 minutes).

NEW PUBLICATION – ‘Youthscapes’ of Development in the Caribbean and Latin America

We are very excited that 50/50 Youth’s first collection of research papers is now off the press! The Special Issue of the SALISES journal Social and Economic Studies (SES) presents eight contributions from members and associates of the cluster.

The SES Special Issue on Youth has a modified back cover featuring e-graffiti by Lerato Hodge of Guyana. The words "Youth Inclusive" reflect what 50/50 Youth is about and the objectives of our research.

The SES Special Issue on Youth has a modified back cover featuring e-graffiti by Lerato Hodge of Guyana. The words “Youth Inclusive” reflect what 50/50 Youth is about and the objectives of our research.

CONTENTS

Introduction: ‘Youthscapes’ of Development in the Caribbean and Latin America
TERRI-ANN GILBERT-ROBERTS

PART I: Youth in Policy, Politics and Practice
Youth Development Policy and Practice in the Commonwealth Caribbean: A Historical Evolution
HENRY CHARLES and MADGERIE JAMESON-CHARLES

Youth Political Participation in Local Governments: Initial Evidence from Latin America
GERARDO BERTHIN

Regional Governance of Youth Development in the Caribbean Community
TERRI-ANN GILBERT-ROBERTS

PART II: Child and Youth Rights to Social Protection
Citizens-at-Risk: Children of the Caribbean
ALDRIE HENRY LEE

The Online and Offline Realities of Children in Residential Care in Trinidad
KHADIJAH WILLIAMS-PETERS

Corporal Punishment in the Caribbean – Attitudes and Practices
CORIN BAILEY, TRACY ROBINSON and CHARLENE COORE-DESAI

Notes and Comments
Grounded in the Past: Jamaican Youth and History
BIRTE TIMM

To make enquiries about securing your copy, please email ses@uwimona.edu.jm. 

Youth – A Lost Economic Generation?

A Lost Economic Generation does not have to become a Caribbean reality

During a recent debate in the Barbadian Parliament, an honourable member of the House spoke of the consequences of Barbados not having a viable economy. By his assessment, if the Barbadian economy is not managed well, the island faces the certain prospect of having a lost economic generation. Earlier this year similar sentiments were echoed at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. During that meeting, income disparity and social unrest were highlighted as major issues likely to affect the world economy in the next decade.  At the centre of this economic tragedy is the world’s youthful population or what the WEF described as a “lost generation”.  According to the WEF this generation consists of several young people thrown on to the job market who lack jobs and skills and are increasingly frustrated. Similar sentiments were echoed by the United Kingdom’s Royal College of General Practitioners, who revealed that they were seeing an alarming number of 15 to 34-year olds suffering from depression, stress and anxiety due to the economic recession in the UK.

The Caribbean is not isolated

Barbados, like the rest of the Caribbean, is in no way isolated from this economic nightmare. Our young people too are facing significant challenges with diminished job prospects and constraints on the former luxuries of being able to switch jobs. Employers have the upper hand as they can reduce wages due to the high demand for jobs and oversupply of labour. With limited experience, many young people are either bypassed or forced to take lower wages.

Even for those who are able to obtain jobs, there is still some difficulty.  A  2009 study by the Economic Policy Institute entitled Economic Scarring, noted that obtaining a job during an economic downturn could have negative psychological effects for years. This is due to the fact that many persons may not be working in their ideal job, coupled with limited prospects for training and advancement. In such circumstances these persons may resign themselves to that single experience as being their fate in life and not grasp other job opportunities which come along.

The Social and Economic impact on youth 

For young people there are other impacts such as delaying marriage or the purchase of a home because the financial stability is simply is not there. In the past, those pursuing tertiary education would have been spared the encumbrance of hefty student loans. However, with Caribbean governments juggling tight budgets, meeting the costs of university fees is simply not a priority like before. This scenario will likely lead to a generation of youth with high debt, this debt coupled with limited job prospects will no doubt cause further social dislocation.

How our youth can overcome 

All, however, is not lost for Caribbean young people facing these challenges. Human resource experts assessing this global situation have recommended that young people remain flexible and be willing to move and try different things. These experts also encourage youth to consider delaying certain material goals until such time as they have stronger job offers. In addition, continuing to upgrade one’s education with important and practical skills is also a sure way to increase one’s job prospects.

Another solution to the unemployment situation is entrepreneurship. The G20 Young Entrepreneurs Summit of 2013 was held under the theme ‘Avoiding a lost Generation’. This summit of young entrepreneurs from some of the world’s most advanced economies reflected on the economic situation affecting youth. Coming out of the summit, entrepreneurship was identified as the main tool to tackle the youth unemployment situation and to increase economic growth for countries across the world. However, some of the barriers cited in achieving this include a lack of entrepreneurship education, tax and regulatory systems which prove extremely prohibitive to potential entrepreneurs and inadequate investment funding.

The G20 Youth Summit made certain recommendations which should be followed by Caribbean countries. These include expanding funding alternatives for young businesses as well as quality mentorship and business support services. In addition, embracing a culture where young entrepreneurs are celebrated, even if their businesses fail, providing incentives and reducing red tape and excessive taxation are all seen as critical to a youth-led economic recovery.

Beyond promoting entrepreneurship as a viable economic solution, both private and public sector entities across the Caribbean need to offer youth quality internship and apprenticeship opportunities. Too often youth are criticised for not having what it takes to enter the workforce. Yet they are offered few practical opportunities to boost their skills and experience. Corporations must realise that employing youth, even within internship programmes, can be a significant investment to a company’s sustainability. Such programmes also benefit the country’s social and economic stability by producing a stronger pool of workers and making it more attractive for potential foreign investors.

Whether or not we wish to admit it, this is a special time in which the Caribbean finds itself. The promise of economic prosperity and an improved standard of living have, to an extent, been realised with the Independence project. Yet, there is a very certain threat of these gains being eroded. The public, private sector and civil society organisations must therefore play their part in helping to overcome this daunting prospect.

Increased consciousness 

Of course, our young people too must also become more cognisant of the issues facing them. Gone are the days of finding a ‘good job’ after completing one’s secondary or tertiary schooling. Our youth must get a greater understanding of the difficult global environment in which they are competing for scarce jobs and even business ventures. They must have a keen eye focused both on the local and international landscape and be willing to work harder and smarter with the aim of exploiting all opportunities.

The Caribbean’s youth must find their voice, agitate for change, embrace new ideas and be the leaders of innovation and creativity in Caribbean society. Indeed, if this is done, a lost economic generation will not become our reality.

What do you think are the best strategies for

increasing youth participation in building prosperous economies?