A Call to Action: The Voice of our Youth

By Tómori Tomlinson

The Governor-General’s Programme for Excellence and the Office of United Nations Resident Coordinator met with State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Honourable Robert Nesta Morgan on November 23, 2021 to discuss the Call to Action which was derived from the annual Youth Consultative Conference. The Conference which was held on October 6 and 7, 2021 facilitated the discussion of the issues present among the youth of Jamaica.

The objective of the Call to Action is to primarily present the collective demands of Jamaica’s youth in a bid to “Build a resilient path to recovery” with and for them. National Coordinator for the Governor-General’s Programme for Excellence Mr. Abrahim Simmonds expressed, “The UN is a main partner in this initiative and a key output of this event is the Call to Action; which is from the young people of Jamaica saying to government, to civil societies, all stakeholders, members of the United Nations Development platforms, that these are the strategies we want to incorporate in any plans to build back stronger after the COVID-19 pandemic.” The meeting today was held to present these thoughts and concerns to the Ministry of Education that they may be actioned.

The youth of Jamaica demanded that technology be mainstreamed in the public education system even after the pandemic dissipates. In addition, young people are of the view that adequate investment in the knowledge of ethical digital citizenship is lacking. Furthermore, the youth expressed their need for encouragement to be champions of public health education. Finally, young people demanded that the government facilitate diverse pathways to employment and platforms for voicing their concerns surrounding impacts on the Sustainable Development Goals posited by the United Nations.

In response to the demands of Jamaica’s youth, State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Honourable Robert Nesta Morgan believes that the youth are stronger and more likely to obtain results by collaborating. Ms. Maxsalia Salmon, Associate Development Coordination Officer at the United Nations Resident Coordinator Office, in support of this, conveyed that the United Nations in Jamaica prides itself in inspiring and empowering youth action. “The UN in Jamaica is currently seeking to increase sustainable partnerships with youth-led and youth-focused organisations in order to promote the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals but also in the context of COVID-19’s response and recovery; of which we feel that young people must be a part of.”

Minister Morgan acknowledged the importance in the action needed to appease the demands of Jamaica’s youth. He also urged various youth organisations such as the Jamaica Union for Tertiary Students, the UWI Mona Guild, the Student Council, the Youth Council and Youth Advisory Council join forces to action change. The Minister said, “There is hope because we have some young people and older people who are opening up their eyes and manifesting positive tendencies towards national development; and I think if we can engage that cohort of people then we can create a critical mass of change.” He believes that this is a good start towards the changes which will be effected in the upcoming months.