The newly installed executive of the National Youth Council (NYC) is hoping to empower the island’s young people to assist them in reaching their fullest potential.
Newly appointed president of the NYC Jahisiah Benoit said on Tuesday the new council is now in a better position to facilitate that empowerment in an environment that is conducive to holistic development of youth.
“Given the impact of things like the global economic downturn and changes with respect to climate change and other pressures on the young people, they are in need of a voice and of a sense of purpose and direction to empower them so that they can make the transition from the school environment to the professional environment” he said in an interview with the Government Information Service (GIS).
“I think this new executive feels that its responsibility is very immense and we will not take it on ourselves only, we want to have a solid network from the grassroots with all the youth groups across the country “noted Benoit.
As a first order of business, Benoit said the council will seek to consult with all youth groups on the island to put together a comprehensive work plan for the national executive.
“Our first objective is to develop a national work plan for the National Youth Council based upon some solid workshops and discussions with the youth groups in each district. We will develop work plans for each respective district and then identify the synergies in the budgets and program areas of those respective work plans to form a national work plan for the council”.
“With that, this executive will be able to evaluate itself over a two year period as opposed to taking on the proposed activities one at a time and not being sure as to if we are really responding because we have not committed to any particular program or agenda, so we want to start off on that footing” he explained.
Benoit, who is the local economic development officer for the Caribbean Economic Development Program assigned to the Ministry of Community Development, highlighted the establishment of a national youth parliament as another priority focus area for the National Youth Council.
“To facilitate the discussion and monitoring of this work plan, we want to establish the National Youth Parliament. We believe that it is very critical. A lot of times when young people stand at community meetings to express themselves, they are not taken seriously just because they cannot articulate their position effectively and that is as a result of just a lack of experience in some cases or sometimes they are too impassioned to professionally express their opinion”.
“We want to establish a forum where they can engender those skills of public speaking, of oration, of presenting position papers and preparing working documents so that whenever they have an idea people will indeed be forced to take them seriously by virtue of their organization and their skills as a professional” he said.
The Government of Dominica currently provides an annual subvention of E.C ($100,000.00) towards the operations of the National Youth Council.
The new NYC president would like the new council to be less dependent on Government subvention and establish an enterprise to be managed by the National Youth Council.
He said that enterprise could be within the agricultural sector or others.
The council is proposing E.C $200,000.00 to effectively carry out its mandate for the next two years.
“This executive wants to express fully that we want to stop this over reliance on Government subventions, we need to be innovative and think of ways to expand our pool of resources. We think the best and most sustainable way to do that is to establish an enterprise for the National Youth Council that is managed by young people”.
“We are open to the ideas of the young people and we are not selecting or targeting or restricting ourselves to any particular sector, for example the fisheries sector is wide open for us to enter into. Agriculture is also wide open. When you look at the issue of food security in Dominica, which we as youth are concerned about, that is an area for us to enter into. I think with all of the support systems that The Government and the private sector have established we can benefit if we establish a business in those areas,” stressed Benoit.
The NYC President is also hopeful that the Council will be able to acquire a piece of land on which they will be able to establish a headquarters
“Since I have been aware of the Council, it has been housed in a building near to the Newtown Savannah, which is very limited with respect to space and also we are unable to facilitate the sort of activities that young people require, for example a simple conference, a simple workshop” he said.
“We would want to have access to some land that we can initially possibly use it to generate some revenue and then establish our headquarters on it. It doesn’t have to be a large building, as long as it has an office space and the conference and basic things like a kitchenette we can start from there, because two years is not a lifetime. We want as an executive to set a foundation that can be built upon and expanded by generations to come,” Benoit noted.
The formation of a National Youth Council media team is also being proposed by the new executive of the NYC to assist in the promotion of positive youth activity on the island.