Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
Youth Minister Lisa Hanna has been given a failing grade by several youth group leaders who say she has not lived up to some of their expectations and does not seem to have a clearly defined policy direction to help foster the growth and development of the nation's young people.
The grades for Hanna, who assumed responsibility for the youth portfolio in January, ranged from a C to a D as several youth group leaders charged that she may be too preoccupied with her responsibility for the Jamaica 50 celebrations.
Clear plan needed
Chairman of the National Youth Council, Ryan Small, speaking during a Gleaner Editors' Forum yesterday, suggested Hanna needed to articulate a very clear plan for the nation's youth population and said it should be "designed" with input from all the various youth groups.
"We hear the minister speak a little here and a little there, but we still don't know what's in the book for us. We want to be able to read it, we want to be able to be a part of the design of that plan for us," Small demanded.
He added: "And at the end of the day all this talk will have to stop because it's not all about pretty talk and looking good, it's about action."
Another concern, according to Daniel Wilson, president of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Guild of Students, is that there has been virtually no communication between Hanna and a number of youth groups since she took office.
He said the Guild council was now placing greater focus on tertiary education reforms and wanted to hear how Hanna and her colleagues in the Cabinet can help this process.
"Because I personally believe that Jamaica will suffer bitterly if our youths do not go to universities and get a degree," he warned.
"So she has not met my expectations. There has not been any meeting or any dialogue with her at all. No form of communication," he charged, though declining to grade the minister's performance.
G2K President Floyd Green, who also spoke at the forum, argued that Hanna, with her youthful appearance, was squandering a very "special opportunity" to capture the hearts of young persons.
Green, who graded Hanna's performance a D, suggested her first 100 days in office should have been used to outline a clear vision for the youth section of her portfolio responsibilities.
"Where she sees it going, where she wants to go and how she plans to utilise the National Youth Council ... unattached youths what are her plans for them?" he questioned.
"And not doing that, I think, she has started to create a deficit because the youths of today are into instant action," Green added.
President of the University of Technology Students' Union Karen Manning-Henry said the "gap is widening" between what she expected and what has been happening in the youth sector.
Manning-Henry suggested that there has to be more collaboration between the ministries of youth and education.
Youth leaders decry minister's stewardship
Editors forum on the Jamaican Dream at the Gleaner Company on Tuesday 3.7.2012
Karen Manning-Henry, president of the University of Technology Students' Union
"Based on what I am seeing, I am not sure if my expectations were too much. But I see where the gap is wider than I expected as it relates to what I expected would have been achieved."
Ryan Small, chairman of the National Youth Council
"I am not feeling her. Our expectations of the minister were so high considering how eloquently she spoke in some areas on youth issues and the beautiful plans she had put forward for youths."
Nackadian Jones, first deputy chairman of the National Youth Council
"Personally I am not impressed by any means where her performance is concerned. She is somewhat too focus on the Jamaica 50 celebrations."
Anake Henry, a student at the University of the West Indies
"I wouldn't use the word fail. That's a bit strong. However, our expectations of her were rather high and I can say definitely, no, she has not met my expectations."
Daniel Wilson, president of the University of the West Indies Guild of Students
"I expected an outline of a particular goal and how each, in our various bodies, would incorporate it in that goal and the role we have to play. There has not been any meeting with us ... , no form of communication."
Floyd Green, president, G2K
"She has a youthful appearance and she speaks the language of the youth and that gave her a chance to really capture the hearts of the young people, but I think that has been wasted. I would never say she has failed, but she has started to create a deficit."