Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 16, 2023 (SKNIS): The 2022 class of the 25 Most Remarkable Teens in St Kitts and Nevis engaged in frank discussions with Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew on Saturday (January 14, 2023) during a dinner at the prime minister’s residence at Beacon Heights.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Youth Empowerment Honourable Dr. Geoffrey Hanley, as well as Junior Minister in the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, the Honourable Isalean Phillip, also attended the dinner held in a relaxing and engaging atmosphere.
Prime Minister Dr. Drew welcomed the young people indicating that they are the first group to be hosted at the prime minister’s residence. He encouraged the teens to have fun but more importantly to speak candidly.
“…No grand speeches, no formal speeches, but to hear from you the youth of St. Kitts and Nevis,” Dr. Drew said. “What are your concerns, your ideas? What are the challenges you are facing? And, how we can really respond to your needs and help you to foster attitudes so that you can participate in nation-building and achieve your own personal goals?”
The group then had dinner followed by an open discussion forum. The young people highlighted concerns which included upgrading laboratories at the C. F. Bryant College CFBC), improving internet connectivity within high schools, enhancing internship opportunities, and creating job opportunities and support for young entrepreneurs.
The Ministers shared that an allocation of approximately $700,000 to upgrade the CFBC was included in the Budget for the 2023 fiscal year, and partnerships with two internet service providers will see improvements in connectivity by introducing fibre optic internet within schools in the coming months. However, they said this process has to be carefully managed. The opportunities for creatives in the growing Orange Economy, as well as the formation of the Small Business Ministry, were also highlighted. Plans to construct a multi-purpose indoor facility for sports and cultural performances were outlined.
Prime Minister Dr. Drew then welcomed opinions on creating accessible free healthcare with salary/wage deductions, and whether the option of working from home or a flexible schedule should become a regular feature in the Federation. The young people generally agreed that deductions to improve healthcare are a worthwhile investment as seen in Europe and other industrialized countries. It was opined that working from home might not be the best option for some at this time as accountability and productivity standards must be developed.
There was unanimous consensus to Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Hanley’s question if the hair restrictions in schools should be revisited. The remarkable teens proffered a measured approach allowing tidy hairstyles at moderate length, without any colouring or dyes.
At the end of the discussion, Prime Minister Dr. Drew thanked the teens for accepting his invitation to dine with him and said he was inspired by their contributions to nation-building at such a young age.
“Your country needs you; we need you. Don’t give up, see it through to the end,” he expressed while raising his glass in a toast.
The young people reciprocated their gratitude to the Prime Minister for his hospitality and opportunity to help shape public policy that will impact the people of the twin-island Federation.