ST. GEORGE’S, GRENADA, Monday, November 11, 2013 – GIS: Youth and Social Inclusion,” was the theme of UNESCO’s 8th Youth Forum held in Paris, recently where Nickson Barry, Youth Officer in the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Ecclesiastic Affairs, represented our tri-island state.
The theme was chosen on the basis of a youth online consultation, and was articulated around the three main objectives of UNESCO’s Operational Strategy on Youth for the 2014-2021 period: policy formulation, capacity development, and civic engagement.
Approximately 500 youths from around the world participated in the event and were given the opportunity to debate on the main objectives of UNESCO’s Youth Programme.
Mr. Barry mentioned one recommendation that was discussed at length on his table; that of a mandated youth representative.
“Since we want to focus on youth, I think that the best place to start is from our homes,” Mr. Barry said. “I believe a petition was sent around, from the Caribbean perspective, to have persons sign on stating that we want a [youth] representative appointed to each national commission.”
Mr. Barry wholly supported this suggestion from his peers and agreed that the voice of the nation’s youth needs to be represented at the highest levels of government.
“There was a call for young people to step up in politics, because if you’re saying that the world has a young population, for example in Grenada where it’s 60% or even more, then who better can you put in leadership. Youth has to lead youth because we know what we want, we know the challenges we face. We can communicate it to the big heads but we know it and it is only fair that we become a part of the decision making process,” Mr. Barry said.
Barry, who is also the Chairman of the Grenada Youth Parliament Association, noted that the revolution era of Grenada’s history has created a phobia of youths in government decision making, but stated that this form of thinking has been changing in recent years.
The recommendations made at the Forum, such as the mandated youth representative, will be submitted to the Organization’s Member States during the 37th session of the General Conference scheduled to take place from November 5-20, 2013.
During the three days of the conference, Mr. Barry was also able to participate in discussions with other participants about common preoccupations and problems in their respective countries and to vote for UNESCO funding on youth developed projects that seek to correct social problems.
He lamented on the fact that time constraints prevented Grenada from producing a project in time for the Forum, but is hopeful that in 2014 we would be better prepared.
Countries with projects that did receive funding at this year’s Youth Forum were; Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Barry hopes to be an active participant in raising the voices of Grenada’s youth; he has expressed interest in the post of the mandated youth representative position if it does indeed materialize.
“Listening to the Director General speaking directly to the youth and telling us that we are the future and that she’s willing to give us what we need to make a difference was really magnificent and really a proud moment for all of us as young people,” Mr. Barry said.
Nickson Barry’s successful participation in the event was made possible by: UNESCO, The Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Ecclesiastic Affairs, The Grenada National Lottery Association and WEEFM Grenada.