Opportunities abound for youth in St. Kitts and Nevis

PMDouglasSKNFederalCabinetPressConFeb2014ABasseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): A press conference on Wednesday (February 19) by the Federal Cabinet of St. Kitts and Nevis which highlighted critical developments in education, sports, renewable energy, public financing, health, law and order, housing and the like, was dedicated to young people who are identified as a priority for government.

“I want to emphasize that the future of this proud nation … rests in the hands of our young people,” said Prime Minister the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas, who also is the Cabinet Chairman. “We the government must continue to invest heavily in our youth.”

A part of the investment that directly impacts young people is the One-to-One Laptop Project, which according to the Minister of Youth Empowerment Honourable Glenn Phillip, has placed more than 9,000 personal computers in the hands of every secondary school student in the Federation since 2010. Additionally, the commissioning of the $3.2 million Education Network (EDUNET) will provide free Wi-Fi access on each high school campus along with web-conferencing and other useful features. Millions have also been invested recently to transform primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions in order to enhance the learning environment, while deepening partnerships with universities abroad has seen an additional 44 tertiary-level scholarships provided to locals.

Youth out of school have had the opportunity to be trained in a host of skills including landscaping, hairdressing, hospitality, retail trade, healthcare, teaching, construction, industrial maintenance and much more under the People Employment Programme (PEP). Project Manager Geoffrey Hanley told SKNIS that to date, 3,129 persons have been engaged via PEP since its launch in December 2012.

Entrepreneurial development is also promoted to young people as a viable alternative to financial sustainability. The Department of Youth Empowerment spent approximately $40,000.00 in 2012 and 2013 training more than 250 youth, while the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund (SIDF) provides training, business incubation support and interest free loans up to $100.000.00 to successful applicants under the Small Entrepreneur and Enterprise Development (SEED) initiative.

“I say today it is springtime for the young people in our country,” Prime Minister Douglas emphasized, adding that about 60 percent of the local population fall within the youth category. “… We say to them, that they must reach out for the heavens. There is nothing that must stop them from reaching out and I look forward to the day, when sitting in this chair (as Prime Minister), there will be one of those same young people who we are enhancing and training today.”

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