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BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS – A dream that in 2017 the people of St. Kitts and Nevis will enjoy a just society where opportunities and the possibility for upward mobility are not limited only to those who are well connected but that all will benefit based on merit.
That’s the hope of Dr. Terrance Drew, the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) for St. Christopher 8, who lamented that recent actions of the Timothy-Harris-led Team Unity Government has imposed tremendous pressure on the young people with the stoppage of several social programmes introduced by the previous St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) administration of former Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas.
Dr. Drew during Wednesday’s Issues programme referred to a just released study which found that of the nine countries in the OECS, St. Kitts and Nevis is an at risk society in terms of gang violence as a result of high unemployment among the youth in the region and that young men and women are at greater risk of engaging in high risk behaviours including gang affiliation and criminal activity.
“Our youths in St. Kitts and Nevisians are the future of this country and the recent findings in the study should not be taken lightly,” said Dr. Drew, who in calling for the youths to be given most attention, stated the youths have been under tremendous pressure from the Team Unity Government.
“Opportunities for youths are scarce and those that were there are have disappeared or are disappearing very quickly,” said Dr. Drew who pointed to the REACH programme and one-to-one lap top programme introduced by the Labour Party Administration both of which have been stopped by the Team Unity Government and cuts in sports and other areas from which young people benefit.
A People Empowerment Programme (PEP) which employed and trained some 3,000 young people in over 20 disciplines has been watered down to a few dozen persons, mostly from Constituency #7, thus increasing the level of youth unemployment.
“The REACH programme provided scholarships to young people as an incentive to further their tertiary level education at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC) in St. Kitts, or the Nevis Sixth Form when they leave high school or the Advanced Vocational Education Center (AVEC),” said Dr. Drew.
“The Team Unity Government has cut the REACH programme which assisted the young persons in purchasing books, uniforms and exam fees without putting severe financial stress on families,” said Dr. Drew, who spoke of numerous sad stories where a large number of young, bright and intelligent youths have had their dreams of attending college dashed and at the same time unable to find employment.
For 2017, Dr. Drew also wants to see the reintroduction of a well-run and efficient healthcare system which has deteriorated to a dismal failure.
“I also want to see the youth of St. Kitts and Nevis be given opportunities of leadership to play a bigger role so that their perspective can be brought to the fore and all in the nation can benefit from their efforts,” said Dr. Drew, who is doing his part by facilitating a vibrant evening class programme.
“I am encouraging students who are writing the CXC and CAPE programmes to attend the classes which are free,” he said.