Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Now that you have won: Hear us, Andrew!

Published:Sunday | February 28, 2016 | 2:00 AM
Prime Minister-designate Andrew Holness (right) and Desmond McKenzie surrounded by JLP supporters at the party’s headquarters last Thursday after the votes were counted.
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The 2016 general election season was the first that thousands of young Jamaicans would have seen as eligible voters.

What they were privy to was selfishness, unprofessional conduct, lack of discourse, and theatrics with little substance.

Many saw, again for the first time as eligible voters, what causes the nation to fail time and again.

While the new Government praises itself for its victory, members of The Gleaner's Youth Council have agreed on a list of priorities that we believe the Andrew Holness-led administration should focus on to prove to us that it believes Jamaican youths are important.

Education: Many of us want better infrastructure, universal access to academic materials, especially with regard to science labs, and even improved bathroom facilities in all of our schools.

We also want to see the swift introduction of vocational areas of study as early as primary school. Student loans are a burden on our young people, as well as knowing what career to pursue, which shows a need for career guidance in secondary school. We also see a lack of attention to students who suffer from such conditions as autism or physical disabilities.

The council is also urging the administration to broaden the school-feeding programme with more focus on using locally grown produce.

Job creation: Many of our concerns revolve around employment. Too many willing and capable young people are kept out of the workforce due to lack of jobs, qualifications or access.

The Government needs to increase the use of an apprenticeship programme to train and educate young Jamaicans, and the promise of multiple thousands of jobs being created must be kept.

 

INCREASE ACCESS TO OPPORTUNITIES

 

Urbanisation: When it comes to tertiary education options and job opportunities, many people outside of the Corporate Area are forced to relocate due to a lack of options. The Holness administration must increase access to opportunities for self-advancement in rural Jamaica.

The Government must work with the major local and regional universities to create an online paid certification programme in tertiary-level fields that most concern those in rural areas. By providing a free curriculum and a pay-as-you-go examination and certification process, those who are unable to relocate cheaply can work from home in their free time to improve themselves. The council further believes the eHOME proposal placed on the table by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), while in opposition, is a possible source of employment for young Jamaicans in rural Jamaica who could work from home digitising government records.

The disabled: Those in our nation who are disabled need access to all spaces in the country they call home. How many state-operated buses are wheelchair accessible? How many buildings? If this Government values all citizens equally this must be addressed.

Young, unattached and unskilled Jamaicans can be trained under an apprenticeship programme and used to make government buildings more disable-friendly. The administration should encourage tertiary institutions to create a working prototype of a strong ramp, made with basic and locally sourced material.

It should also be mandatory that all public buses have a foldable wheelchair ramp on board.

Human rights: We want to see respect and understanding for all. Regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, class or religion, we are all Jamaicans.

The administration must show that it is prepared to defend the rights of all Jamaicans, and strengthen agencies such as the Office of the Public Defender to offer support to persons who might have been wronged.

 

BROKEN JUSTICE SYSTEM

 

Crime: The battle against crime is one which the administration must show that it is serious to fight. This must be addressed on several fronts, including fixing the broken justice system.

The administration should consider employing persons fresh out of university to improve the forensics capability of the police force and increase the manpower and resources to the entities charged with law enforcement.

The council is also urging the administration to seek to urgently reform the prison system in order to rehabilitate persons found guilty of crimes, rather than what obtains now where they are 'hell on earth' for offenders.

Accountability and anti-corruption: If he needs a refresher, the new prime minister can ask any Jamaican about the ways in which our officials have operated without accountability over the years. The new Government must install more checks and balances in the system and speedily display its intention to hold public-sector employees, including Cabinet ministers, accountable.

The political system: General and local government elections should be held at the same time. There should be a tribunal to determine whether or not a member of parliament's failure to live up to his or her campaign promises is due to mismanagement or corruption, for which sanctions should range from ineligibility to run for office for a period, to legal action. We find it baffling that there is a list of qualification for every single job except for political representation. The council is urging the administration to consider a two-week mandatory course on governance on other issues for new MPs. And finally, DEBATES should be mandatory in the lead-up to any national election.

Join us on social media to discuss your list of solution-oriented demands for the new government with #YDemand and don't forget to continue following us on Respect Jamaica's page and with #KlickItUp!

This week's council members are Latresha Hall, Husoni Raymond, Akime Edwards, Delion Bowes, Dervin Osbourne, Orville Levy, Tina Renier, Elton Johnson & Aleya Jobson