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? 

Jamaica Conference: Values and Attitudes in Youth Development

The UWI Mona’s celebration of Youth Month in Jamaica included the convening of the first National Youth Conference, on the 26th November, hosted by the UWI Mona Department of Government, in partnership with the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD) and with support from the Institute of Caribbean Studies, the Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM); the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Guardian Life.

The Organising Committee of the Jamaica National Youth Conference

The Organising Committee of the Jamaica National Youth Conference

The event was a welcome landmark in the University’s advocacy for youth development and the theme of “Preparing Youth for the Future: Promoting Values and Attitudes in Development” inspired an interesting discussion among policymakers, researchers, youth activists and secondary and tertiary students on “promoting positive values and attitudes among Jamaican youth”.

Please click here to: Download a copy of the Programme to see details of the panels and visit the website of the Centre for Leadership and Governance at the UWI Mona to learn more about the Youth in Governance and Development Programme, including the Youth Mainstreaming Strategy Development Projects in Jamaica and Belize.

50/50 Youth spent the day with participants at the conference, discussing promising and significant youth development initiatives including:

Participants in the Conference

Participants in the Conference

  • the work being done on the revision of the National Youth Policy in Jamaica;
  • Jamaican social enterprise initiatives which seek to engage youth in adopting positive values;
  • the results of a National Values and Attitudes Survey of youth bettween 14 and 26 years old;
  • the new UNFPA State of the World Population Report: “The Power of 18 Billion” 
  • and the values embraced by a group of young people who demonstrate resilience in the face of vulnerability.

On the latter issue, I served as panel chair for the session entitled: “Preparing Youth for the Future: Fostering Resilience to Overcome Odds”. In the literature on youth, resilience “involves positive adaptation under stress and the development of good outcomes despite serious threats to well-being. It refers to the capacity of youth to cope with challenges and resist risk factors. It is about supporting youth agency – the capacity of youth to resist the overwhelming influence of risk and to take responsibility for their own development – through processes that promote youth well-being and empowerment” (see UNDP. 2012. Caribbean Human Development Report, Chapter 2 ‘Reducing Youth Violence and Enhancing Youth Resilience’, pp.45-46).

The panel discussed this concept based on presentations by Dr. Anne Bailey – a visiting Fulbright Fellow in the Department of Government; and Judine Bailey, Steven Rob and Kevin Daley – students at the UWI Mona who come from vulnerable and/or volatile communities in Jamaica and are excelling in their academic careers.  All students were considered to be from disadvantaged backgrounds and were told, at various points in their childhood, that they would not or could not amount to anything. The panel began with an introduction by Dr. Bailey who spoke of increasing academic acceptance of the fact that “positive adaptation” can take place within challenging socio-economic contexts and widespread rejection of  traditionally deterministic theses of negative outcomes for those who grow up in poverty.

Then, each of the three students shared their unique life experiences of “beating the odds”. I was struck by the extent to which their stories told of common tools of resilience. The following factors played a role in building resilience against risks associated with growing up in contexts where few people could afford or had the opportunity to pursue higher education; in contexts where most parents and family members were unemployed; in contexts where communities were plagued by violence:

  • Faith in a higher power; and belief in self
  • Family/mentor support and encouragement
  • Peer support and building youth coalitions for a better life
  • Having an individual vision for a better life; and discipline to plan and implement initiatives to meet goals
  • Having a desire to excel – not just for one’s own prosperity but for the betterment of others and prosperity of community and nation

The last factor was one of the most compelling of the shared tools of resilience which emerged from the discussion. Resilience – from the technical definition above and others like it – is often considered to be an individual trait and objective. However, for Judine, Steven and Kevin and the other conference participants in the discussion, resilience was inextricably linked to the resilience of their communities and country. They were motivated to do well in order to build their capacity to help others and contribute to a more prosperous society. The discussion spoke to building coalitions among youth to change the society to enable a more resilient country and region. That’s a refreshing view on building youth resilience! So, in recognition of the agency of youth in building a resilient Jamaica, and a rejection of a reliance on others to build resilience in young people, we renamed the panel – “Youth Preparing the Future: Being Resilient in the Face of Odds”.

Minister of Youth, the Honourable Lisa Hanna with Students of Waterford High School at the Conference

Minister of Youth, the Honourable Lisa Hanna with Students of Waterford High School at the Conference

What have been your experiences of building resilience?

What are your views on the values and attitudes discourse in youth development?

PROMOTING CHILD RIGHTS – 9 years of the CCRC

November is a special month in Jamaica not only because it is celebrated as Youth Month but also because it is the time of year when SALISES, Mona hosts the annual Caribbean Child Research Conference (CCRC) in Kingston. This year, the conference was convened over two days from 5th -6th November under the theme “Promoting the Rights of Children with Disabilities”.

50/50 Youth Chair, Terri-Ann Gilbert-Roberts, spent time at the conference engaging in discussion with some 400 participants on various aspects of the context of policies and programmes for children with disabilities. The CCRC is a unique forum for child participation in research and so we sat down with Dr. Aldrie Henry Lee who is a Senior Fellow at SALISES Mona and the Chair of the annual conference to find out more about the CCRC. Dr. Henry Lee is also Chair of the SALISES Social Policy Cluster and an associated of 50/50 Youth.

Calling all primary and secondary school students! Click to Like the CCRC Facebook Page and learn more about attending next year – maybe you will be the next Outstanding Child Researcher!  🙂

…STAY TUNED for clips from interviews with the top researchers seen here posing with their prizes

Young Leaders in Research - the 2014 Top Child Researchers

Young Leaders in Research – the 2014 outstanding Child Researchers posing with their prizes.

SOME IDEAS FOR THE POST BAKU GLOBAL YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

The Global Forum on Youth Policies has re-affirmed support for the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY). In spite of obvious organizational and logistical challenges the forum has established a platform for enhanced global co-operation on and transformation of the Global youth development paradigm. However, to effectively transform the global youth development ethos from the prevalent deficit discourse and tokenistic approaches to a positive and transformational youth development paradigm the global youth movement/alliance must undertake to:

GLOBAL LEVEL

  • Establish a multi-billion dollar global youth development fund to support youth development research, youth advocacy, human capital development, youth economic empowerment, youth innovation and political participation, among others.
  • Actively support the revitalization and strengthening of independent and democratic youth networks and platforms.
  • Implement a global and adequately funded strategy to revise, review, strengthen and re-position national, regional and international youth development agencies. This should also include facilitating the development of a professionalized youth development framework and culture.
  • Establish an international working group or other relevant cooperation framework including the UN Agencies, Commonwealth Secretariat, Council For Europe, African Union, European Union, ACP among others to facilitate more unified and strategic interventions in youth development.
  • Establish a Global Youth Empowerment Index or other relevant framework of standards/indicators to facilitate objective and independent assessment of global youth empowerment ethos. The agreed framework must be supported by universally accepted conventions mandating member countries of the international community to undertake biennial or triennial assessments and submit reports on the status of youth empowerment in respective countries. Independent multi-sectoral assessment teams should preferably undertake these assessments.

CARIBBEAN REGION

  • The CARICOM Secretariat and OECS Commission must get their act together and, strategically position themselves to better support the regional youth development agenda. This must include providing or actively facilitating the provision of strategic support to independent and democratic youth networks and platforms.
  • Youth development stakeholders must immediately act upon the recommendations of the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development, UNDP Citizens Security report, Eastern and Southern Caribbean Youth Assessment and other relevant recommendations to enhance the youth policy development environment and transformation of the regional youth development ethos.
  • Actively engage with and support appropriate youth development initiatives by the University of the West Indies and other relevant academic institutions. In this regard the initiative by the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Economic and Social Studies, Mona Campus to establish a Youth Cluster Research group must be actively supported. Continue to engage with this and other complimentary initiatives to strengthen the policy development environment through active research , knowledge development and credible monitoring and evaluation initiatives. This includes encouraging emerging collaborative efforts between Caribbean participants at the recently concluded Baku Forum and the SALISES 50/50 Youth Cluster to develop appropriate supporting protocols and initiatives for youth policy development in the Caribbean.
  • Actively support SALISES 50/50 Youth Research Cluster proposed 2015 Regional Academic Conference on Youth Development.
  • Without further delay undertake a comprehensive review of inter-agency cooperation in youth development and develop an functional strategic framework (Youth movement, Governments, Private Sector, Civil society and UWI )for active cooperation on regional youth development initiatives and agenda.

CONCLUSION

The storm clouds are gathering. The rising tide of dis-content may soon assume ‘tsunamic’ proportions. It is no time for subjective agendas, insularity and mediocrity among the youth development community. Let us seize this historic opportunity to transform the global, regional and national youth development. This is a vital and critical success factor to transform the prevailing climate of hopelessness and despair which has dampened the dreams of our post-emancipation heroes and threatens to derail the Caribbean Independence project. La luta continua!

Henry Wallice Charles

Henry Charles on #youthpolicymatters: “Youth Policy is Not a Shopping List! “

During the First Global Forum on Youth Policies, 50/50Youth Member, Henry Charles was asked to share his perspective on youth policies. His presentation, infused with history, was well-received by the group. Listen in… “Youth Policy is Not a Shopping List” 

Special thanks to Ms. Tricia Teekah of the Guyana National Youth Council who shot and shared this video.

#youthpolicymatters (After Baku)

We spent three days with over 700 youth activists, academic and technical experts, legislators and policymakers from over 165 countries exchanging information on the state of youth policies. What an experience! I wish we could have provided you with the live updates during the conference as intended. However, with over 700 people connecting to a single internet access point, connectivity was challenging. However, we are glad that you can view video excerpts from the conference here: http://vimeo.com/ypforum2014 and read the Baku Commitment to Youth Policies issued at the end of the Forum.

Over the three days, participants in the First Global Forum on Youth Policies exchanged information on progress in their countries and regions with respect to:

  • The status of implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 200 and Beyond which is now 20 years old;
  • Guiding Principles for Youth Policy: Rights-based design; inclusiveness; participation; gender-responsiveness; comprehensiveness; evidence-base; full resourcing and accountability
  • Best practices in national and regional youth policy formulation and challenges in implementation in respect of an impressive array of thematic areas: education, employment and entrepreneurship, peace and security, health, participation, volunteerism, environmental protection, gender equality, justice, urbanization and housing, social inclusion, information communication and leisure.
  • Methods and approaches to securing commitments to the common denominators of a “modern” youth policy – compiling the evidence base for policy formulation; securing youth and stakeholder participation; formulating the legal frameworks and instruments; securing political leadership/commitment and mobilization of resources; securing cross-sectoral/transversal commitments to implementation across government and non-governmental stakeholders; and building effective monitoring and evaluation systems.

Some of the key debates which caught my attention (and perhaps remain unresolved) include:

  • How best do we ensure accountability for implementation of youth development priorities? By Youth Laws or by Youth Policies and Strategies?
  • What is the role of regional organisations in youth policy? Should there be a single Regional Policy or a regional action plan for coordinating national policies?
  • Youth Participation is critical at all stages of the policy process (formulation, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and revision) but which are the best ways to secure effective participation?
    • For example, with respect to monitoring, are National Youth Councils the right entities to be involved? What about governments?
    • Do these organisations have the capacity, the independence and objectivity?
    • What is the role of academic institutions in the monitoring process and in supporting youth participation? 

One of the benefits of the conference was that it facilitated time for a small Caribbean Working Group to meet to discuss the implications of questions like these for the region and to discuss some next steps in advancing youth policy in the region.

Out of those discussions, new partnerships have been formed between SALISES 50/50 Youth and the Caribbean Regional Youth Council (CRYC) and representatives of National Youth Councils, Ministries and Departments of Youth and other youth practitioners. We have plans to work together to build the regional capacity for youth policy analysis to ensure effective monitoring of the state of policy responses to youth development needs in the region. This will serve as a means of advocacy for national accountability for formulation and implementation of youth policies.  

We also have the endorsement of these stakeholders for our plans to celebrate Caribbean Youth Day next year on 30th September, 2015 with a special Caribbean Youth Development Conference. The conference will provide an opportunity for you to join the discussion in person and connect with some of the interesting and knowledgeable people we have been interacting with in Baku and other forums.

Stay tuned for announcements on these two new initiatives!

FYI: We have a new email address so you can connect with us at salises5050youth@gmail.com