Belize pilots CARICOM Youth Development Action Plan
Belize is joining the rest of the Caribbean Community in pressing forward with what’s called the CARICOM Youth Development Action Plan. The plan was finalised in October 2015 and on the seventh anniversary of that, Belize is piloting the program. The plan supports the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) by making it easier for young people – ages 10 and 29 – to access opportunities at various levels and to encourage full social, economic and political participation in society as architects and enablers of development. Director of the Department of Youth Services, Kevin Cadle explained the importance of this.
Kevin Cadle, Director, Department of Youth Services: “As a result of Belize actually climbing the charts of the global youth index we are currently at medium. Previously we were at low . There are only three Caribbean countries that are ahead of us at this time in youth development in the region and that is Jamaica, Barbados and St. Lucia. We have gone so far as now to become the big brother to Saint Vincent and the grenadines in terms of youth development work. In terms of what we’re doing over the next two days is an assessment to look at the CDAP and the purpose of that is to be able to see where we are as a country in terms of youth development and what we plan to go for 2022 to 2024 adapting the CDAP and the assessments being done under CDAP by UNICEF and so charting the way forward we have just completed our 2022 – 2024 strategic plan incorporating several important strategies one definitely being the importance of youth inclusion and youth being at the center stage of development in our work. We are getting to for the first time in the history of this country we put together a paper to cabinet through the attorney general for a youth act. There has never been a you act in the history of this country if you note every other else department has an act and is legislated but the department of your services is not legislated and the main thing behind what we want to do is to cement our policy and secondly to ensure that youth mainstreaming is at the center of youth development in our country and so those are two of the most big endeavors that we are charting the way forward between 2022 and 2024.”
CARICOM’s Deputy Program Manager for Youth Development, Michele Small-Bartley added that new realities are being factored in given the impact that COVID-19 has had on youth spaces.
Michele Small- Bartley, Deputy Program Director of Youth Development, CARICOM Secretariat: “The Belize youth department has been very instrumental in terms of developing their youth mainstream strategy as well as the policy and so the CARICOM has decided to use Belize as a pilot for the implementation of our youth action plan. The youth action plan addresses essential areas of youth development namely education, economic empowerment, health and wellness, safety and protection of our young people. We talk about identity, our culture, citizenship, the governance and leadership and participation. The CDAP which is short for the action plan is actually being revised where we are using a more results based management approach where countries will be able to identify the inputs that will be necessary to achieve the outputs and the outcomes and the impacts that we want across the region. Additionally we have actually realized that especially since COVID that there are nuances and other changes that have happened within the youth space and so it has become essential for us not only continue doing what we were doing before but how we can adapt to the changes that have actually happened in our socioeconomic space.”
Financial and technical support for the regionwide program comes from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).