PRESS RELEASE:- The University of the West Indies, Regional Headquarters. 22 August 2016 – Marking International Youth Day on August 12, 2016, The University of the West Indies (UWI) launched the UWI-Youth Development Programme (UWI-YDP) at the Cave Hill School of Business, Barbados.
Under the theme ‘The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production’, the launch represented a renewed commitment from the University to impact the global youth development agenda.
Established as a project within the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, the UWI-YDP’s vision is to become the centralised advocate for youth development, which responds to the needs of the youth and youth organisations within the Caribbean. The programme will also provide a strategic guide for key youth development organisations throughout the region offering them technical support.
At the launch, UWI-YDP’s Ad hoc Working Committee was represented by three young activists, Chairman, Mr Michael Joseph; Deputy Chairman, Mr Kevin Manning and Mr Damani Parris, Secretary. Citing some startling figures on youth underdevelopment and deviant behaviour in the Caribbean, the Committee Chairman expressed hope that the seriousness of the situation was not lost on regional governments and developmental agencies. Testimony of the intention to collaborate, representatives from state agencies, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the United Nations (UN), the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) and the IADB were present at the launch.
UWI Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles in delivering the feature address highlighted the severe need for a youth empowerment force within the Caribbean noting the resurgence of young people engaged in the national political discourse. Pointing to the movement of engagement and alertness gaining ground throughout the world, initiated by young people—the Black Lives Matter movement being one of the most notable (started by three young American women)—Vice-Chancellor Beckles challenged the audience to honestly assess the situation in the Caribbean. He said “There is no movement of youth political engagement that can be identified with clear and specific objectives for change and transformation. This has to concern all of us who are educators because we see the landscape which is dotted by the references we made about youth crime and underdevelopment and the pervading culture of entertainment, leisure and pleasure among our young people. What is missing is the political philosophy of change and transformation and movement.”
The difficulties that youth in the Caribbean region face are apparent to the UWI-YDP and The UWI owns its responsibility to the next generation and intends to take up the challenge to provide youth with the keys to their own future. This programme represents a core part of the Vice-Chancellor’s vision to rekindle an “activist university”.
Following the launch, the UWI-YDP began the process of setting up its operating process and developing relationships with Caribbean governments, the private sector and NGOs across the region, as well as various members of the region’s diplomatic corps and international organisations.
The programme coordinators will begin the gathering of data to inform the UWI-YDP’s agenda and will work with regional and national statistical bodies to produce a current ‘Status of the Youth Report’. Based on this data gathering process, the UWI-YDP will announce its first projects in the upcoming months.
UWI-YDP projects will target persons aged 16–35 years and seeks to ensure Caribbean youth become productive citizens within the region and internationally. The UWI-YDP will operate in the 17 territories served by The UWI; the Open Campus, with a physical presence in these territories, will be the vehicle of choice for establishing the programme.