guyana chronicle July 11, 2017

THE Working People’s Alliance (WPA) is calling for holistic studies to be done on issues affecting all youths in Guyana through the National Youth Council so that solutions can be found.
Party Executive Member, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley told a recent press conference, “WPA is of the firm belief that the issues affecting the youth of Guyana should be tackled in a comprehensive manner.”
This “comprehensive manner” of which she speaks should essentially involve the convening of the National Youth Council with representatives from every region. The party also wants the National Youth Policy, which was passed by the National Assembly last October, to form the basis upon which the youths are engaged.

“We recommend that the National Youth Council should conduct a nation-wide study to determine which aspects of the Youth Policy should be prioritised by the government,” Sarabo-Halley said, and called for consultations with youths across Guyana through the youth council.
As Sarabo-Halley lamented, the population is not just Georgetown, and programmes that are implemented must seek to benefit all youths across the country. Therefore, the constitution of the council would enable a grass-root level engagement with the youth, identify particular issues in the communities of the regions and then relay to the government the needs of the youth. Suggestions will also be made to the government on how to best handle the issues in each part of society.
Within the national budget each year, much emphasis directed to the development of youths with the largest allocations going to the education sector, part of which targets youths majorly.

In the 2017 budget, $43.1B or 17.2% was allocated to the education sector, while in 2016, $40.3B or 17.5% was allocated.
With this much funding being put into youth development, the WPA member explained that systems can be instituted to have the evidence-based recommendations advanced by the council inform the annual budgetary allocation for youth.
“It is our view that this demographic [the youths] is critical to the development of the country and holds the key to its re-election,” Sarabo-Halley noted.
The national youth policy advocates for the multi-faceted development of youths, where their skills are improved in every way possible thus the suggestion made to have this youth policy as the base seems befitting. Criticisms leveled at the policy by opposition members before it was passed in the national assembly however, highlight that it does not reflect a consensus in its design since sections of youth in society were not consulted. This factor is not in-keeping with the WPA’s calls for consensus. The WPA’s statement comes at the heels of the party’s cognizance of the fragmented focus on youth development in Guyana, where many of the current youth-centered programmes are not benefitting a majority of the youths in society, especially those in areas outside of Georgetown.
Sarabo-Halley referenced the impetus on sports, work done in technology through the Hackathon and STEM programmes and the positive changes effected through the President’s Youth Award Republic of Guyana, but advanced that focus on these areas have only benefitted a small section of society.  She also reminded that the coalition government promised in its manifesto a National Youth conference and called for a convening of this at soonest.