BASSETERRE, St Kitts -- The capacity of the Cayon secondary school and community to deal with issues related to youth on youth violence should be significantly enhanced with the implementation of the reducing youth on violence pilot programme in St Kitts and Nevis. National consultations are currently being hosted in that country under the CARICOM – Spain reducing youth on youth violence in CARCIOM member states pilot project.
The consultations in St Kitts and Nevis began with an opening ceremony on Monday. In bringing remarks, Beverly Reynolds, programme manager for sustainable development, CARICOM Secretariat, stated that this project was expected to build on work previously carried out in collaboration with the ministries of national security and social development, culture and gender affairs, under the social development and crime prevention action plan.
She also highlighted that it is anticipated that the reducing youth on youth project would complement other initiatives that are being implemented by the government of St Kitts and Nevis to address risk factors for youth violence.
Honourary Consul from Spain Gary Da Silva, who also brought remarks at the opening ceremony, used the opportunity to highlight the longstanding commitment of Spain to St. Kitts and Nevis and the CARICOM region and noted that this cooperation programme was one of their oldest.
“These programmes are funded through the Spain-CARICOM Joint Fund, which currently holds about US$1.5 million” he said.
The Spanish representative stated further that Spain was one of CARICOM’s top ten donors. He explained that, within the European Union, Spain is a strong advocate of aid to the Caribbean basin, helping to make the EU the largest donor in the region.
He said, “Spain’s total official donor aid to the Caribbean excluding Haiti has been more than US$20.5 million over the decade 2003-2013.”
If the support to Haiti was included it would top US$360 million.
In her remarks at the opening ceremony, permanent secretary in the ministry of education, St Kitts and Nevis, Ionie Liburd Willett, said her ministry was pleased to be one of the partners involved in the initiative.
She said the project would provide the requisite research and findings to improve their knowledge of the effects of life skills and entrepreneurial programmes already being underway, noting that in recent times there has been a decrease in criminal behaviour with the implementation of a variety of programmes by the government of St Kitts and Nevis.
Special mention was made of the mentoring, advising, guiding and instructing children (MAGIC) programme which was being spearheaded by Commissioner of Police, Celwin G. Walwyn.
According to Willett, the programme seeks to “address issues related to drug use, violence, alcohol consumption, bullying and gang related activities in primary schools”.
Also mentioned were the people employment programme through which more than three thousand youth have been employed so far and a child friendly school initiative which was being piloted in schools across the federation.
In closing, Willett encouraged all the partners to embrace the project and commit to a better future for youth in St Kitts and Nevis by ensuring that they are paving the road of opportunity for them.
The CARICOM – Spain pilot project is being rolled out in five CARICOM member states -- Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. National consultations have so far been conducted in Antigua and Barbuda and Jamaica. The CARICOM team’s next stop is Saint Lucia on 5 - 6 June. The final consultation is scheduled for Trinidad and Tobago on 9 - 10 June.