(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Youth from across the Community were recently engaged at a special consultation aimed at obtaining their input for the development of a Results-focused Community Strategic Plan 2020+. This virtual consultation, brought together CARICOM Youth Ambassadors, and other youth leaders and representatives from a range of youth organisations and communities including, the Commonwealth Youth Council, Youth Parliaments in the Member States, Young Pioneers Organization, CARICOM Youth Writers, Unions of Tertiary Students and National Youth Councils.
During the interactive session, the youth considered and proposed various existing, new and emerging strategic issues which they posit should be priorities for the Community in the new Community Strategic Plan. Among the issues highlighted and discussed were:
- the need for greater use of information and communication technology in the education system to reduce the technology divide, which would help in facilitating teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic;
- strategies and measures to engender youth engagement in decision-making; sustainable development and the Green Economy;
- youth empowerment/employment;
- improvements in service provision that ensures a healthy youth population, including sexual and reproductive health services;
- reduction in domestic and gender-based violence;
- reduction in crime and violence;
- and socio-economic support for the differently-abled
Additionally, the participants discussed and highlighted other issues including:
- their desire to be more involved in the affairs of CARICOM;
- the need to improve access and admissibility of youths in rural areas to technical institutions;
- the establishment of more youth associations to support youth development at the Community level in the Member States;
- the need to increase vocational activities in schools;
- and the provision of business facilitation and support services for small businesses, including those wishing to engage in e-commerce.
The discussion also highlighted the need for improved communication and information sharing on the results of the integration development agenda. The conversation also stressed the need for greater information sharing on Community policies, strategies, initiatives and outcomes to all citizens of the Community, utilising social media and other channels.
In this regard, the CARICOM Secretariat has launched the ‘I AM CARICOM’ Communications Campaign as an important vehicle that will enable greater visibility and information sharing, increased understanding and participation in the CARICOM construct, governance, policies, strategies and plans of the Caribbean Community.