”Let us acknowledge and celebrate what youth can do to build a safer, more just world. Let us strengthen our efforts to include young people in policies, programmes and decision-making processes that benefit their futures and ours.Ban Ki-moonUN Secretary-General
Young people play a crucial role in the prospect for development and should be included in all National Development Plans and Programmes. Regrettably, in developing countries, attention to the holistic development of youth (persons under 35 years) has not been focused or purposeful. Consequently, more must be done considering the practical implications of the shifting perceptions of youth and the role they can play in society.
In Antigua and Barbuda, although youth account for more than half of the population and approximately 31% of the electorate, they are grossly underrepresented in all aspects of public and private life. Such a major portion of our population ought not be ignored. Moreover, given that they are the next generation of leaders, it is imperative that the government invest in them now! Youth play a crucial role in our national development efforts and over the years, there has been an increase in awareness about the important role they can play in the sustainable development of the nation. The emerging global consensus on youth development emphasizes the need to include the perspective of youths in the process of national development with the effective contribution of youths in national development practice.
To ensure that the skills, talents and knowledge of our young people are adequately utilized, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is committed to creating the enabling environment for the training, mentoring, growth, development and inclusion of young people in every facet of our National Development Plans. Young people also face formidable issues of unemployment, discrimination and lack of access to education and healthcare. Left unresolved, these challenges will impede national development while hindering each individual’s personal and professional potential.
The DNA will prepare our young people for the opportunities inherent in a diversified economy while facilitating their ambitions to develop into the types of leaders who are well-rounded and poised to take the proverbial baton to propel our country to the next levels of social and economic prosperity. Education is one of the key factors which contributes towards the advancement of a nation. Therefore, integral to the success of our youth is the modernization of our educational curriculum where increased emphasis will be placed on Technical and Vocational Training as well as Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM). This new and bold focus is designed to ensure that no student is left behind and will be able to use their skills, training and knowledge to make meaningful contributions to society while ensuring sustainable livelihoods.
Recognizing the interconnectedness of all the sectors of our economy, the DNA continues to develop policies and design programs which will address frontally issues affecting young people. These broad-based strategies include establishing both a National Internship Council (NIC) and a Youth Training Council (YTC), creating early intervention programs for at-risk youth, teenage mothers and young parents, redesigning and improving facilities to accommodate differently-abled youth, provide greater financial support and mentorship to our athletes and appoint youth to all government Boards.
Our Vision 2040 which is the DNA’s architectural blueprint for the redevelopment, restructuring and repositioning of our country, economy and society had significant input from young people. We recognize that when our youth and involved, encouraged and inspired then greater positive changes will redound to society and peace, progress and development within our nation is assured!