An initiative has been launched to increase political participation among Barbados’ youth and to connect them with the existing Members of Parliament to help them develop and understand the role Parliament plays in society.
The National Youth Parliament (BNYP), providing yet another needed platform for the advancement of the youth agenda in Barbados, was launched this morning in the West Wing of Parliament. Some of the broad goals of BNYP, which was established by the Ministry of Youth, in association with the Parliament of Barbados, includes having a successful and effective Youth Parliament that can be relied upon to stimulate growth and change amongst its participants, organizers and the wider community.
Additionally, the Youth Parliament was designed to ensure that the voice of the youth is heard not only in the streets of Barbados but in its Parliament, declaring and proclaiming what young people of this nation stand for and against.
Delivering remarks at the launch, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley said that it was determined the Barbados National Youth Parliament would be patterned after the House of Assembly of Barbados. Wherever possible, the Youth Parliament will follow the rules of procedures of the House of Assembly as closely as practical, although the training would highlight practices from other parliaments, exposing participants to comparative parliamentary practices.
“In developing a framework for the Barbados National Youth Parliament, there was examination of some of the existing youth parliaments, including the Nevis, Suriname and United Kingdom models. Indeed, the examination of the various models revealed that there are many benefits that can accrue from the establishment of a National Youth Parliament in Barbados.
“These benefits,” Lashley said, “include inter alia, increased political participation of youth, education of young Barbadians about the civic process including voting, the branches of government and the legislative process and drafting of model legislation.”
“The current 60 members of the BNYP are drawn from students who attend a recognized educational institution and also youth recommended by recognized community groups or Constituency Councils, having a general interest in Parliament and governance, community spirit or volunteerism and a commitment to gender and equality issues, along with a basic competence in written and/or oral use of English.
“Generally, the long-term sustainability of the BNYP is a central goal of the National Youth Policy. We are quite aware of the many issues that can arise that could impact on the efficiency and the effectiveness of the BYNP. With this in mind, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth in conjunction with the President of the Senate and Clerk of Parliament will assume the lead for the [BNYP],” the minister said.
Cherisse Francis, representative of the Barbados National Youth Parliament Sub-Committee and president of the Barbados Youth Development Council said the Youth Parliament was listed as one of the ten mechanisms in pursuing the goals of the National Youth Policy. She said the launch could not have come at a more opportune time as youth in this globalized world have to be articulate, well informed and assertive to stand out among their peers.
“We have made it our business to ensure that this educational tool will continue long beyond our tenure. The vision that I believe the team still possess and which resonates in my mind is a Youth Parliament where Barbadian young people can stand well prepared, passionate, articulate and determined to speak. But the words resonating from the mouths of these members of the Youth Parliament would be such that they command the attention of all Bajans,” Francis said.