At the first official sitting of the Tobago Youth Assembly on Thursday April 23, 2021, at the Assembly Chamber, members delivered spirited presentations taking aim at issues such as youth entrepreneurship and education. The occasion provided elected youth Assemblymen and Councillors with the opportunity to advocate for their peers in matters relating to public policy.
The motion introduced by Youth Assemblyman for Canaan/Bon Accord and Youth Premier, Jásher De Gannes read in part, “WHEREAS Sustainable Development Goal 4 aims at ameliorating the quality of education received by all, educational reform is required to ensure that education is accessible, equitable and relevant to all demographics of students on the island of Tobago. AND WHEREAS the Sustainable Development Goal 8 seeks to facilitate decent jobs and economic growth Tobago’s economy can benefit from a spike in youth entrepreneurial activity which can increase our GDP and help to eliminate youth unemployment.” The motion also referenced the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic of multiple sectors on the island.
The Assembly sought to provide recommendations to draft a strategic plan geared towards building sustainable development for Tobago and a report for submission to the respective line Divisions for consideration as statements to be laid in the house within six months.
Following the sitting, De Gannes shared, “I’m extremely satisfied that my motion was passed in the house today. What really stood out to me today was that my colleagues really, really did their research, they brought their points, they were really articulate and it ended up being an overall excellent debate.”
Assemblyman for Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside, Adriel Wheeler noted, “What stood out for me is that I was basically able to shed light on a topic a lot of youth shy away from; the fact that business ventures are something we can go into, but we tend to feel that if we’re not working with the THA or working with the government, that we’re not worthy as an adult. Being a part of the Tobago Youth Assembly is truly an excellent initiative and it’s something I would encourage other youths to go into.”
Meanwhile, Secretary of Sport and Youth Affairs described the motion as an “important” one and expressed satisfaction with the delivery of the young people throughout the proceedings. She highlighted, “I listened to the diction. I listened to the articulation and most importantly I listened to the content of the presentations. Most of them were well researched and of course, well put together.”
The Secretary added, “I think it’s a step in the right direction in the sense that we are signaling to the young people that we want them to be part of the governance process and most importantly, we have started the process of training them to walk in that particular direction.” She went on to encourage young people to continue accessing opportunities of this nature to ensure that the baton is passed successfully from generation to generation, and the critical work of Tobago’s development moves ahead.