At the end of July we told you of a report from the Commonwealth Secretariat has expressed dissatisfaction at the support being given to youth workers in several of the member countries with Belize performing extremely low. The 275-page document reveals the outcomes of a study done in thirty five Commonwealth countries and the steps they have taken to professionalize youth work. Belize is one of eight Caribbean countries that were assessed and according to the report not even half of the member states have taken significant steps in giving importance to youth work and the benefits they can have to a nation. It is a report that Minister of Youth, Patrick Faber has not seen but by all indications does not agree with as he told Love News yesterday.
Patrick Minister – Minister of Youth
“I have not seen that but I would dispute that readily. You see in Belize we have done a lot to provide opportunities for people who may not want to go down that route and if you look around right here in the city you will see that but you will also see it in all parts of the country. We have second chance programs, we also have those programs that offer opportunities for young people. I can think of two that come to mind right away the Gateway Youth Center which you are familiar with and the Frank Lizama Center, both of these programs for instance cater to early school leavers, people who may have dropped out of late primary school or even early secondary school and those programs are undersubscribed. So whenever somebody writes a report and says that enough isn’t being done when in fact these kinds of programs exists and are undersubscribed you know that something isn’t connecting. But I don’t want to be unfair, I have not seen that report coming from whichever entity you are saying and so maybe there is something else that they have taken into account and once I see that I will better be able to comment.”
In the report it noted that twelve of the thirty five states assessed had shown significant effort in professionalizing the youth work sector while eleven had distinct national-level policies that recognized youth work and twenty five of them were only able to claim a minimum of a diploma-level qualification for youth work professionals. We were also reported as having no legislation by way of a Youth Work Act nor do we have any professional association in place. Faber, once again disputed this portion of the report.
Patrick Minister – Minister of Youth
“Even that we would dispute because if that is the case because you know that it is under this administration that in fact a national youth policy has been created and this is after years. I’ll tell you that last time there was a national youth policy was when I was president of the National Youth Commission when I was 16. Well you know I am far from sixteen now so that was quite some time but a year or two ago we did implement the National Youth Policy so I don’t know if it’s a recent publication what did they take into account when they came on board and of course given that there is the National Youth Council now a national youth commission that is being pushed by the young people themselves the many different opportunities that are being provided by the DYS and the strides that they have made in terms of engaging our young people I would readily disagree with any such report given that that is what they are saying.”
In addition, the report noted that Belize does not have the availability of a Masters or PhD for youth work education and training but rather only for a degree or diploma. The Commonwealth Secretariat defines youth work as youth engagement that seeks to build personal awareness and render support to the social, political and economic empowerment of young people delivered through non-formal learning. The study was conducted in 2016 with results with its findings presented earlier this year.