Fri | Aug 17, 2018

Where are the youth debaters now?

Published:Thursday | April 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM


It seems to many of my colleagues that elections are drawing near. We remember the big flurry in the 2011 campaign for the so-called youth vote.

Both parties sent out information across social and traditional media as to their policies for the development of young professionals, young people and our families. There was also the highly publicised youth debate in which the People's National Party (PNP) put forward first-time politicians Raymond Pryce and Dr Dayton Campbell, along with then first-term member of parliament Lisa Hanna.

The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) team included two senators who were also ministers of government: Warren Newby, Marlene Malahoo Forte and the first-timer Dr Saphire Longmore. It made for great television with a large audience. Watching it, I definitely felt as if the future of Jamaica's political landscape was on show. Generally, I was pleased with what I saw, as were many of my peers. We felt all six displayed a sense of promise and potential; we were inspired that bright days were ahead for Jamaica.

With the recent visit by US President Barack Obama - some of our young talent were again on show during the Youth Leaders' Town Hall Meeting. They, too, made us proud in their conduct and for the quality of most of the questions posed. Again, attention must be paid to the performance of our youth in national development across all spheres. This is the best measure of Jamaica's fortunes for years to come.

I believe it would be a good time now for a critical review of what was promised by the youth debaters then and what they have delivered to the country and their constituencies and professions since. Four of the six, (Hanna, Pryce, Campbell and Malahoo Forte) are parliamentarians today. An assessment is appropriate to determine if our expectations have been met.

It would be a useful exercise if the Jamaica Debates Commission and/or the media, in general, host a mid-term debate. I suggest a return of Pryce, Hanna and Campbell for the PNP with Malahoo Forte, Kamina Johnson Smith and Dr Andrew Wheatley for the JLP. Our youth, young professionals and our society on a whole may benefit from such an activity.

Clara Ferguson