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Monday, May 22, 2006 

22nd May

Caribbean Youth In Crisis

We have previously noted that as we look in sorrow at some of what is the news today, we see the evidence all around of yesterday’s neglect; yesterday’s failures; yesterday’s delinquencies; and yesterday’s willful derelictions of duty.

How else –we ask rhetorically- does anyone answer the question as to why so many of our youth are caught up in the coils of crime, deviance, and wanton destruction.

And we want some one to tell us what is happening in this nation’s schools; and give us some answers why there are so very many near illiterates being ‘graduated’ in today’s Bahamas.

In the mean time we can tell you that employers in both the public and private sectors are privy to a number of startling facts concerning this nation’s youthful population.

Highest on the list of things most employers know is that there are thousands of young people who leave school barely literate; an often time totally innumerate. And then as we reflect on the tragedy in this mess of a situation, we take note of the fact that all of this has cost the Bahamian people so very dearly.

New information reaching us notes that The Bahamas will be host to the sixth Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (6CYMM) on 22-26 May 2006. The theme of the meeting is "Youth Empowerment for the Eradication of Poverty, Crime and HIV/AIDS."

That information also reveals that the Youth Ministers meeting will be preceded by the Pan-Commonwealth Youth Caucus and Regional Advisory Boards meeting from 22-23 May. The last CYMM was held in Gaborone, Botswana, in April 2003.

We note also that the 6CYMM is an opportunity for ministers and senior officials from across the Commonwealth to meet with young people to discuss progress in member countries on youth related issues. Examples of workshop topics include: ‘Young People and the Digital Divide’, ‘Crime and Violence’ and ‘HIV/AIDS: The Challenges for Young People’.

Of immediate interest is the fact that the Opening Ceremony for 6CYMM will be held in the Ballroom at the Wyndham Hotel, Nassau, on Tuesday, 23 May 2006 at 1800 hrs, where the meeting will officially be declared opened by the Prime Minister of The Bahamas, the Hon. Perry Christie.

We note also that the opening will also be attended by Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon and Deputy Secretary-General Florence Mugasha.

This conference is timely, coming as it does in a moment when Caribbean youth are being buffeted by any number of strong winds.

They are contending with the ravages of HIV-AIDS, joblessness and a loss of connection with communities that once sustained them.

And increasingly, their elders just do not know how to reach them or help them.

In this regard, Oliver Mills makes a point with which we agree.

It concerns youth and responsible citizenship.

This writer notes that, "it is only when the society undergoes fundamental change in its morals and mores, and allows positive values to permeate throughout our various institutions, including our education system, will a new human person emerge with the kind of desirable qualities that are the hall mark of good citizenship."

By way of counterpoint, Mills had made the observation that in far too many instances young people in the Caribbean were being swept away by a flood of cheap media imports. Of the most serious concern to all of us should be that whole sale import of hip-hop and the gangsta style; a life style that glorifies misogyny and thuggery.

Long gone are the days when Caribbean people identified themselves with their leaders or a struggle for anything beyond the more superficial fineries of the so-called good life.

As a consequence, more and more of our youth are being chewed up by remorseless consumer based machinery. It is one that encourages violence, disrespect and the glorification of sudden death. This is no way to build a nation.

And for sure, it is no way to build up the Caribbean nation.

We dare say that these large initiatives require youth who are focused, up to the challenge implied by that connection between responsible citizenship, community formation and national development.

Quite evidently, nothing of any real value can be built by people who are strung out on drugs, packing weapons, or ill in body or in mind.

The inescapable truth is that our youthful population is our greatest insurance for the future. Squander that resource, you are left with nothing else other than a desert of lost dreams.

Sadly, this is precisely what is happening throughout our region as more and more young people lose sight of their bonds and connections to their elders.
The Bahama Journal - Bahamas News Online Edition
Copyright Jones Communications Ltd. ©2005 - Nassau, Bahamas.

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