TALK UP YOUT
Youth Empowerment Through Dialogue
Workshop and Town Hall #2
Funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund
The project “Youth Empowerment Through Dialogue in Jamaica” provides a platform for Jamaican youth aged 14-24 years to advocate for workable solutions for the issues affecting them, and an opportunity to demand accountability from local and national representatives elected to serve them.
Training Workshop: May 26, 2017
Number of Youth Attendees: 23
Introductions and Expectations:
Facilitated by Talk Up Yout Team Members
Renee Johnson led the initial energetic introduction where she expressed that Talk Up Yout was seeking to encourage youth to become more involved and hold their elected officials accountable. She urged all in attendance to participate wholeheartedly by interjecting and giving feedback and even stating disagreements.
Sujae Boswell then ascertained what the youth expected from the two-day process. He shared the importance of having fruitful conversations with elected officials about the changes needed in communities. He also explained that it was important not only to make requests of the Members of Parliament and Councilors, but to gain an understanding of the roles citizens themselves could play. Participants mainly expressed expectations concerning community development, the visibility of the Member of Parliament, infrastructure (roads) and plans for youth involvement.
Boswell explained that throughout the day they would be exposed to the political process, the roles elected officials are to play and how the youth in St. Elizabeth can effect the changes they would like to see. Boswell elaborated that young persons not only need to be more involved, but they also need to become advocates, as this is how politicians will see the need to appeal to the youth’s interests.
Presentation on Governance
This was an interactive presentation, which was well received by the attendees. They were educated on the role and structure of government and the roles of their elected officials. Talk Up Yout facilitators also discussed civic duties and their importance.
Participants were then split into groups of three or four. They were asked to make a presentation on their perception of the roles of their Members of Parliament, recommendations for the MPs and their understanding of their roles as citizens.
The presentations revealed that most of the participants had been attentive and had grasped the roles of Members of Parliament and Councilors. Some of the recommendations included increasing youth involvement, allocating more of the CDF (Constituency Development Fund) to education, starting up homework centers and fixing roads. Many of the participants seemed disillusioned and thought the CDF, twenty million annually was an exorbitant sum of money and could do all the things necessary for the constituency.
Conrad Mathison, the Talk Up Yout Social Media Advocacy Consultant and presenter interjected during the participants’ presentation due to poor body language and poor vocal projection. He gave a brief talk on confidence, body language, and communication so they could improve their presentation styles.
In the two aforementioned segments (Introduction and Presentation on Governance) the participants elaborated their main issues and concerns.
They are as follows:
Training on Fundamental Rights and Freedom
This in-depth discussion on the constitution and fundamental rights session was geared towards helping the participants to understand their rights, which would help to empower them. Many participants expressed that the knowledge distributed was entirely new to them and used this segment to express their dissatisfaction with their Members of Parliament. Most of the negative comments were geared at Evan Redman, and most positive was absorbed by Floyd Green.
Training on Advocacy
This was another interactive presentation, where participants were encouraged to help themselves before seeking help from others, in particular their elected officials, and to seize all opportunities.There was an exercise which required participants to write and share what they would like to experience, their plans for personal growth and their projected contributions to their communities within a year. Some of the participants expressed that they wished to make their families proud with their CSEC examinations results and travel outside of the parish. Others expressed interest in either forming or joining a youth club. The focus of this activity was to show participants that execution required planning and a vision; emphasizing that short-term goals were also important and warned against succumbing to discouragement from external sources.
Participants were also taught how to properly use their smartphones for advocacy. This was done by showing them where the microphones on most smartphones are, and teaching them how to record properly and turning on Airplane Mode during the process to avoid interruptions in the recording.
Participants were also asked to develop questions to ask their representatives. They were given cue cards and asked to put their names, constituencies, and questions on the cards. The facilitators selected the newly trained advocates who would be asking questions in the Town Hall. They were chosen based on their participation in the workshop throughout the day.Afterwards the Post Tests and Evaluation forms were distributed.
Town hall: May 27, 2017
Number of Youth Attendees: 67
The participants have been charged to mobilize their peers, generate consensus on priority issues and make representation to relevant elected public servants.
Facilitator: Giovanni Dennis
Officials in Attendance:
Floyd Green, Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Member of Parliament for South West St. Elizabeth
Derrick Sangster, Councilor for Mountainside Division, Mayor of Black River, Chairman of the St Elizabeth Municipal Corporation
A prerecorded interview between JC Hutchinson, the Member of Parliament for North Western St. Elizabeth and Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Giovanni Dennis was played throughout the Town hall meeting.
The host announced that persons in the audience would also be invited to join the conversations and direct questions towards their Members of Parliament.
A variety of issues were brought to light at the Town hall such as road maintenance, electricity outages, migration from the parish, youth unemployment, investment and community centers and the allocation of the Constituency Development Fund. Both officials, particularly Minister Green, sought to appropriately answer the questions posed by the youth. The attendants admitted that they believed their questions were fully answered however expressed their displeasure that only two of the officials were present.
One of the main issues raised was the migration of young persons out of the parish. Green admitted that migration was indeed a major issue as majority of the tertiary institutions are in Kingston, but shared that the University of the West Indies and the University of Technology were expanding to St. James and new tertiary training sites in both Black River and Junction are assisting in the alleviation of this predicament. Green also expressed that he hoped to get more skills based training for those in his constituency in viable areas as training and education are important, but ensuring that youth can be productive in the end is key.
Sangster suggested that migration is natural and could not be alleviated overnight but focus on investment in the parish could assist the parish’s economy encouraging more young persons to stay. While Hutchinson added that one of the major issues in the parish is lack of investment as there are few businesses in the vicinity. He expressed his hopes to get a training center up and running in Lacovia to train young persons in Hospitality as many hotels are being opened on the North Coast and this could be a useful means of employment and opportunity for them.
Further questions and discussions led Green to admit that he believed agriculture was St. Elizabeth’s most viable option and a good route for entrepreneurship as the parish has unused land. However, he stated that there must be discussion about processing to move from primary production to secondary production. He urged young persons to come up with their own ideas which could be monetized and suggested that an innovation center to help them with this was underway.
An advocate who had received training at the workshop highlighted that community centers were important for community development the inclusion of youth. She suggested that where there were no community centers, schools could be used to offer, for example, homework help and classes aimed at personal development. Green added that one of the main issues was the maintenance of the centers and suggested that youth form clubs to help their officials find solutions. Green said that he hoped to revive the youth club development as it is currently on the decline. He also explained that he tries to communicate with young people through the mediums which they prefer, such as Facebook, and urged them to reach out as he checks his messages personally. Sangster too agreed with the youth club initiative as he believed the inclusion of young persons is necessary for community development and noted that a good way to get them involved was by way of sports.
Sangster urged young people to not be afraid to contact their elected officials. He also suggested that they write letters to him, reiterating that he is an accessible mayor. He gave out his contact information and made it known that appointments were not required. Mayor Sangster shared that there were Council meetings every second Thursday and that he would seek to bring up new issues that was made aware of there to facilitate progress. He made a promise to an advocate that he would liaise with Councilor Fisher to get the community center in Balaclava up and running as the young man expressed that he had been unable to get in touch with his Member of Parliament, Evan Redman.
Minister Green also elaborated that the Constituency Development Fund is twenty million per year and that its funds must be spent through and implementing agency or third party and must be paid to a supplier not a person. Green gave a breakdown of how majority of his CDF is spent.
The breakdown is as follows:
Main Issues Which Arose at the Town Hall
Westmoreland and Hanover are the next stops in the series of town halls under this initiative.
For more information
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