It was a joyful moment on Friday, May 16, 2014 when the IDB Representative, Therese Turner-Jones and the Minister of Youth and Culture, Honourable Lisa Hanna, cut the ribbon and unveiled the plaque for the Clarendon Youth Information Centre/National Youth Service Centre. Youth sang, children drummed, politicians spoke, and the crowd applauded loudly to the testimonials of young people who have benefited from programs offered by the National Centre for Youth Development and the National Youth Service.
The Centre brings great pride to the community, and the room was overflowing with government and IDB representatives, students, the business sector, non-governmental organizations, service clubs, and diaspora. The Chair of the Clarendon Stakeholders’ Working Group talked about how the group has accompanied the construction process, and how much they look forward to continued involvement in the Centre’s programs.
In addressing the audience, Mrs. Turner-Jones touted the Bank’s investment in building these centres, but emphasized that they are much more than a physical space. The Bank is focused on what happens inside the buildings. Are young people having access to the right skills? How will the spaces benefit them? Will they make a difference? To help answer these questions, the Bank is assisting the Ministry of Youth and Culture with the implementation of a monitoring and evaluation system to track how young people are served by these centres.
These centres play an important role in providing information, referrals, training and opportunities to young people. The IDB is providing the building blocks, through the construction of this and other centres, training of youth empowerment officers and development of the monitoring and evaluation framework. This represents the youth information /national youth service centre of the future: computers and space allocation for young people to work in a comfortable, safe, environment; readily accessible information on job opportunities through the labour market information system; and regional field officers and youth empowerment officers equipped with the knowledge to work with an ever evolving youth population.
Jamaica’s young people face many challenges: high unemployment, high incidence of poverty, and lack of finances to finish school and training programs. These centres have been conceived to motivate and empower them!