2014 2021 The National Youth Policy of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas - National Youth Policy Consultative Team 2014 & - ILO

 
2014 2021 The National Youth Policy of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas - National Youth Policy Consultative Team 2014 & - ILO
The National Youth Policy
                of
The Commonwealth of The Bahamas

 2014 - 2021
  “Engaging, Enabling and Empowering Our Youth”

         National Youth Policy Consultative Team 2014 &
      The Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture, Youth Division
2014 2021 The National Youth Policy of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas - National Youth Policy Consultative Team 2014 & - ILO
THE NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY of THE BAHAMAS
                                           ACRONYMS

BNYC                 Bahamas National Youth Council
BYPA                 Bahamas Youth Practitioners Association
CARICOM              Caribbean Community
CYDAP                CARICOM Youth Development Action Plan
CHOGM                Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
CSOs                 Civil Society Organisations
COMSEC               Commonwealth Secretariat
CYC                  Commonwealth Youth Council
CYEC                 Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council
CYP                  Commonwealth Youth Programme
DOI                  Department of Immigration
DOS                  Department of Sports
DOY                  Division/Department of Youth
DY                   Director of Youth
ILO                  International Labour Organisation
IMCYA                Inter-Ministerial Committee on Youth Affairs
MOE                  Ministry responsible for Education
MOEH                 Ministry of Environment of Housing
MOFA                 Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration
MOF                  Ministry of Finance
MOH                  Ministry of Health
MNS                  Ministry of National Security
MOLG                 Ministry of Local Government
MOSSCD               Ministry of Social Services and Community Development
MOYSC                Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture
*MOYA                Ministry responsible for Youth Affairs
NIYD                 National Institute of Youth Development
NYETF                National Youth Endowment (Trust) Fund
NYC                  National Youth Commission
NGO                  Non Governmental Organisation
NYAC                 National Youth Ambassadors Corps
NYP                  National Youth Policy
NYPT                 National Youth Policy Team
NYSS                 National Youth Service Scheme
OAG                  Office of The Attorney General (Department of Public Prosecution)
OJ                   Office of The Judiciary
OPM                  Office of The Prime Minister
SAP                  Strategic Action Plan
UN                   United Nations
UNCRC                United Nations Conventions on the Rights of The Child
URCA                 Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority
YDSs                 Youth Development Stakeholders
YP                   Youth Parliament
YPs                  Youth Parliamentarians

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2014 2021 The National Youth Policy of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas - National Youth Policy Consultative Team 2014 & - ILO
THE NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY of THE BAHAMAS

                                         TABLE OF CONTENTS

FOREWORD

PREFACE

MESSAGE FROM THE NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY TEAM

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

PART 1: INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
1.1   Introduction
1.2   Situation Analysis of The State of Bahamian Youth (2007-2012)
1.3   Approach to Youth Development
1.4   Diversity of Contexts (Island Profiles & Realities of Young People)
1.5   Rationale for The National Youth Policy

PART 2: THE NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY FRAMEWORK
2.1   Mission, Value Statement and Motto
2.2   Definition of Youth
2.3   Official Statement on Youth
2.4   Principles, Strategy and Expected Impact
2.5   Policy Goals and Long-Term Objectives

PART 3: KEY OBJECTIVES AND RECOMMENDED STRATEGIES
3.1   Identification & Self-Awareness
         3.1. A   Youth & Immigration
3.2      Education, Technology & Capacity Building
3.3      Employment, Social Enterprise & Young Professionals
3.4      Health, Sustainable Livelihoods & the Environment
3.5      Youth in Conflict with the Law, Youth Justice &Safety
3.6      Inclusion in the Decision-Making Process & Youth Empowerment
3.7      Streamlining National Youth Development Goals

PART 4: SUPPORT FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY
4.1   Government Leadership and Accountability
4.2   Cabinet Submission
4.3   Parliamentary Consideration
4.4   Structural, Institutional and Legislative Support for the National Youth Policy
4.5   Financing the National Youth Policy
4.6   Implementation Strategy

PART 5: INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR IMPLEMENTATION
5.1   Stakeholders, Partners and Benefactors of the National Youth Policy
5.2   Implementing Partners
5.3   Role of The Government
5.4   Role of Youth
5.5   Role of Youth Practitioners
5.6   Role of The Research Community

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2014 2021 The National Youth Policy of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas - National Youth Policy Consultative Team 2014 & - ILO
THE NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY of THE BAHAMAS
PART 6: MONITORING, REPORTING AND EVALUATING THE NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY
6.1   The National Institute for Youth Development (NIYD)
6.2   Monitoring and Evaluation
6.3   Mechanisms for Monitoring and Reporting
6.4   External Partners to Assist with Monitoring and Evaluation
6.5   The Development of a Strategic Action Plan (SAP)

PART 7: REFERENCES
7.1   National Youth Policy Organisational Chart
7.2   Targeted Family Islands & Focus Groups
7.3   National Youth Policy Consultative Team Members (2007- Present)
7.4   Sources of Law & International Youth Plans
7.5   International Treaties, Declarations and Communiqués
7.6   References

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2014 2021 The National Youth Policy of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas - National Youth Policy Consultative Team 2014 & - ILO
THE NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY of THE BAHAMAS

                                                  Foreword
                                     On October 27th, 2013, just one day after Hurricane Sandy ravaged our
                            islands, over 100 young people from throughout The Bahamas gathered for the 1st
                            Annual National Youth Partnership Summit (NYPS) where a consensus for the Draft
                            National Youth Policy of The Bahamas was achieved. That date is significant, not
                            only as a symbol of our nation’s renewed dedication to youth representation and
                            empowerment, , but also as a marker of the unwavering resolve of our youth,, in
                            spite of life’s greatest storms and challenges, to step up and step out. Further, it
                            demonstrated their willingness to confront our nation’s most pressing issues head on
                            by becoming active agents of change. At the closing ceremony for the NYPS, I noted
                            wholeheartedly that we have some of the best and brightest young people in the
                            world right here in The Bahamas and pledged to continue my efforts as Minister of
                            Youth to cultivate that potential and make certain that future generations are
                            protected by a policy which defines the interest and status of young people. It is my
                            sincere hope that this policy will build a bridge between the old and the young,
                            Family Islands and the city, those fighting for justice and those in need of it. It will aid
those seeking health care and those defending our environment, and will empower those launching businesses
as well as those in need of jobs. Young people in The Bahamas have made tremendous advances in
technology, sports, arts, culture and, most importantly, education; however, we still have a long way to go if we
are to build the best possible environment to prioritize youth in the National Development process.

          For this, our 40th anniversary as an independent nation, I echo the words of the first Prime Minister of
The Bahamas, Sir Lynden Pindling, who stated in his keynote address to the 20th National General Convention
of the Progressive Liberal Party on October 28th, 1975 that “any policy consideration of the economic and social
development of our nation must be essentially geared to involve young people … young people can and should
be seen as powerful agents for national development and social change. And as agents of social changes, they
are a most valued national asset.” In order to realise this dream, the National Youth Policy Consultative Team
has worked endlessly over the past six (6) years to produce a Draft National Youth Policy. To that end, I would
like to thank the current Youth Policy Team who shares my passion to see the policy completed; the Director of
Youth, K. Darron Turnquest; Chairman, Tavarrie D. Smith; Andril Aranha; Chanelle Clare, Craig Bain, DeAndra
V. Cartwright, Deno Cartwright, Nadia Cash, Marvin Coleby, Ambrosine Huyler, Anastarcia Huyler, Lovy Jean,
Jeanette Jean and current and past visionaries of the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture on whose shoulders
we stand to produce this current draft. I wish to also extend my gratitude to the countless young people whom
have vetted the policy and to those who would have been involved in the qualitative research over the past six
(6) years. Special consideration and acknowledgement must also be paid to Former Director of Youth, Mrs.
Autherine Turnquest-Hanna who facilitated the initiation of this process.

         Young people, your time is now; this policy is here to secure your place at the table of nation building. I
look forward to continuing our work as we begin the next phase of implementation and monitoring. This policy
will make certain that young people are given every opportunity to develop themselves and fully realize their
untapped potential. It is emblematic of our youth’s overwhelming commitment to positive national development,
despite the perception created by daily headlines that seek to highlight their struggles instead of their triumphs..
This policy represents a truly national effort: irrespective of political persuasions, social status or cultural
barriers. We all have a responsibility to build a better Bahamas and our young people must become the
building tools if we are to achieve that goal. After many years of discussion, debate, consultation and meetings,
we are finally at the precipice of implementing a much-needed National Youth Policy for The Bahamas. I
therefore invite all Bahamians to join me in uplifting this nation through our youth.

                                                      Sincerely,
                                                 Dr. Daniel Johnson
                                         Minister of Youth, Sports & Culture

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THE NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY of THE BAHAMAS

                                                  Preface
                                          For many years, young people in this country have not been given the
                                 attention that has been due to them. The constant statement made by
                                 individuals from national agencies, churches, and other youth serving
                                 organisations that - “something must be done to help our youth”, has been
                                 heard loud and clear. Young people throughout The Commonwealth of The
                                 Bahamas now stand to benefit from a groundbreaking initiative within the
                                 Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture, specifically the present Division of Youth.
                                 The completion of this long awaited initiative, which finally realises the
                                 implementation of a National Youth Policy for The Bahamas (NYP), is no
                                 longer just an ideal concept or an agenda item. It is designed to be a holistic
                                 and comprehensive document that now awaits the approval of the
                                 Government. The fundamental point is that in order for ‘something’ to be done,
                                 there must be a strategic plan on youth and if there is a plan, it must be
                                 protected by a policy.

        With this proposed NYP, the challenges that prohibit young people’s involvement in nation building will
be minimized by providing them with an enabling environment for empowerment. This NYP will be the
instrument that will guide the developmental framework of the ‘ideal Bahamian youth.’ Youth policies are widely
recognised throughout the region, and as such, the development of a youth policy serves as a necessary and
instrumental step in the building of any nation where young people will become the primary benefactors.

          It is clear and uncontested that the dimension of a youth policy is a commitment to include the
exceptional contributions of young people to national development. Simultaneously, it addresses their local and
national needs beyond the present structures and institutions which often ignore inner-city and marginalised
youth. The common goal of this document is to outline the appropriate rights, responsibilities, and privileges
entitled to our young people. Young people have an engendering spirit and can no longer be regarded as a
homogeneous sub-population. Instead they must be defined, recognised and respected as a diverse group with
different perceptions, attitudes and socio-economic statuses, who, in all their different ways, have and continue
to demonstrate outstanding character, commendable leadership abilities, and a true sense of community.

         Therefore, it is timely that we pause and consider the historic importance and significance of a NYP as
a means to improving the quality of life and participation of our young people, taking into consideration the wide
range of political, social, economic and cultural issues impacting them. This policy was achieved through
national consultation with key stakeholders in youth development and grounded in optimal participation of youth
throughout the length and breadth of The Bahamas. Having celebrated 40 years of independence in this
peaceful and democratic nation of ours, it is our sincerest intent that this policy will produce measurable goals
in helping young people to flourish as we improve the promotion and protection of youth rights. It is my
intention, as Director of Youth, that all of our programmes, services and training initiatives provide equal access
and opportunities for all youth.

                                             K. Darron Turnquest,
                                               Director of Youth,
                                      Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture

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        MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY CONSULATIVE TEAM

                                        For the past six (6) years, we have been examining how youth respond
                           to the challenges impacting them and to what extent we can eliminate those
                           challenges that prevent young people from realising their best potential. Often, when
                           people ask about the state of youth in The Bahamas, our answers are met with
                           shock as they voice their disbelief at the challenges we have discovered and
                           question how so many young people are still marginalized in the modern Bahamas.
                           This revelation is often followed by a deafening silence that fills the room as they
                           begin to process the unique challenges we face as a country with respect to youth
                           development. We all know how talented and gifted our young people are and how
                           enriched our country could be if we simply created the enabling environments for
                           their empowerment.. Yet, we have failed to provide a national framework that
                           involves young people at all levels of decision-making.

              As we commenced writing this Policy, we chose to meet with young people throughout The
Bahamas, travelling to as many Islands as our budget allowed, hosting forums, focus-groups and conclaves,
soliciting reports from youth leaders and undertaking a variety of evaluations. Those meetings, where young
people shared the joys and struggles of their daily lives, have been a time of enlightenment for the Policy
Team. There were times we were left speechless, times we shed and shared tears, times when our stomachs
were knotted and times when we worried about the safety and security of the young people we left behind. We
wish to applaud the young people for their bravery and honesty as they held nothing back from us. We
acknowledge the pain of feeling unappreciated and insignificant that many of them shared with us. To the
numerous young people in difficult situations, we hope that this policy will support you in every way possible
and that you are encouraged to pursue your dreams and hold us accountable as youth leaders for our conduct
and decisions towards you. It is on this premise that we can finally say to the youth of this nation, “After years
of sweat and tears, we have kept our promise: Young people of The Bahamas, Here is your Policy”.

         We are optimistic that many more individuals will listen and understand that sustainable youth
development is an intensive labour of love. Although at times it can be extremely demanding, it is all the more
rewarding when one can see the positive impact it has on the lives of the young people who will someday lead
this country. To this end, we wish to thank the thousands of youth workers hailing from Grand Bahama in the
North all the way to Inagua in the South, for being the “true unsung heroes” of this nation. Moving towards
sustainable youth development for The Bahamas will be both a challenge and an opportunity for us. Therefore,
we invite you all to give of yourselves, your time, your abilities and your resources, for the benefit of the youth
of our nation. We close by sharing a special and personal thank you to Mr. Andreas Kristen and his fantastic
colleagues at YouthPolicy.org and the 2013 National Youth Parliamentarians for surviving this journey with us.

                                             Attorney Tavarrie D. Smith
                                                     Chairman,
                                   National Youth Policy Consultative Team 2014

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THE NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY of THE BAHAMAS
                                       EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

        This National Youth Policy 2014 – 2021 is the first four year policy that has been formulated for
the Youth of The Bahamas.

        Discussions for a National Youth Policy for The Bahamas began during the early 90’s when the
Division of Youth realised that programmes and efforts by various youth workers were being duplicated
without a coordinated approach to addressing the challenges facing young people in The Bahamas. This
Policy is the realisation of six years of research, enquiries and drafting, with a focus on: (A) Youth-
Influenced Problem Statements, (B) Youth-Identified Target Areas, and (C) Youth-Led
Recommendations. The Policy also recognises a common goal to create a sustainable path to youth
development work through the enhancement of youth programmes and services that are guided by a
streamlined and formal youth agenda approved by The Government of The Bahamas.

        The developmental process for the Policy was a rigorous and extensive undertaking that targeted
young people from various sectors of the community. After engaging relevant stakeholders such as youth
workers, youth service providers, youth organisations, civil society, government agencies, and the
broader public through town meetings, the National Youth Policy Team identified the strategies necessary
to create a sustainable path to youth development. As a result of thorough preparation and research,
countless youth forums conducted throughout The Bahamas and interviews with thousands of young
people aged 15 - 30, a youth-vetted and youth-approved draft NYP was presented to the Minister of
Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Dr. Daniel Johnson on October 27, 2012.

        Our young people identified a number of social and economic challenges as the most critical
issues affecting them. It is from these and a myriad of other issues, including those which were presented
in the 1994 National Youth Consultative Committee Report, that the National Youth Policy Team arrived
at seven (7) key objectives on which the Policy should focus.. Each objective is accompanied by a
problem statement and a list of recommendations from which the Ministry of Youth is to design specific
programmes and responses through its Strategic Action Plan. The seven (7) key policy objectives are:

    1.   Identification and Self-Awareness;
    2.   Education, Technology and Capacity Building;
    3.   Employment, Social Enterprise and Young Professionals;
    4.   Health, Sustainable Livelihoods and the Environment;
    5.   Youth in Conflict with the Law, Youth Justice and Safety;
    6.   Inclusion in the Decision-Making Process and Youth Empowerment; and
    7.   Streamlining National Youth Development Goals.

        In addition to these six objectives, the Policy also identifies an overall objective to streamline
national youth development goals. The Policy aims to foster an engaging and enabling environment for
young people by ensuring that they reach their fullest potential. Also, the Policy seeks to specifically
define a national vision and a common workspace for youth development, articulate the roles and
responsibilities of young people and youth workers, and provide guarantees for their personal and
national development as model citizens.

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THE NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY of THE BAHAMAS
                          PART 1: INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

1.1      Introduction

The purpose of this document is to provide a common and mutual understanding of the importance of
youth development among all stakeholders and individuals in The Bahamas and to set guidelines for the
delivery of services and programmes related to their development through a cross-sectoral and integrated
approach. Further, this document is to serve as the national framework, approved by the Government of
The Bahamas, for sustainable youth development across the length and breadth of these islands.

It also seeks to ensure sufficient investment by the government and other national stakeholders on issues
impacting youth through the provision of resources, skilled labour, and facilities. This document
recognises the need for the government and other stakeholders to collaborate in achieving a long-term,
comprehensive approach that is well-organised, coherent, meaningful, and resourceful in its aim to
mobilize the community in addressing national youth issues.

The discussion for a national youth policy for The Bahamas has been ongoing for more than two decades
and was subjected to numerous highs and lows based on the forces at play at various levels (global,
regional, national and political) of government. However, the success of this NYP Team in producing this
document not only overcame those challenges, but did so at a time that is opportune for the government
to implement this policy: developing nations are increasingly starting to realise that in order to achieve a
sustainable economy, human development must be a key element of economic and social reform.

The reality is that none of the policy goals can be reached without the structural support, institutional
capacities, resources implementation, and periodic evaluations necessary to deliver the recommended
strategies and monitor their impact. As 58.4% of the national population is comprised of young people
under the age of 35 years, their participation in the governance and development of society has been so
minimal that one can easily surmise that The Bahamas’ national development is being negatively affected
by the virtual absence of one of our most precious and abundant national assets – youth.

Any meaningful youth initiative must take into account that more than half of the population is below the
age of 35 years old. Such a realization will go a long way in coordinating a national effort to eliminate the
obstacles to youth development within The Bahamas. The reality is that the development of strategies
that positively affect the socio-economic status of young people is geared towards aiding a majority
population within The Bahamas.

The realisation that young people represent such a large percentage of the population while their
development continues to be severely obstructed is often difficult to substantiate as a result of the lack of
youth-specific data to inform policy makers. Further, the absence of monitoring and evaluation schemes
that properly measure the impact of existing programmes, undermines youth development efforts. Such
data deficiencies have led to the design of chaotic youth strategies that failed to take into account the
diversity of youth demographics, individual island profiles, socio-economic statuses, vulnerabilities, and
the contributions of the young people themselves for whom these programmes have been designed.
Although, the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture has, in recent times, attempted to integrate youth issues
into its divisional portfolio, these efforts are not supported by the necessary frameworks.

This policy, commissioned by the government through its international commitments and supported by
the work of the National Youth Policy Team, addresses the major concerns and critical issues faced by
youth. It will also regulate the implementation of all youth related programmes and services. In light of
this, it is expected that the policy provides direction for the creation of a Strategic Action Plan on youth to
complement the roles of all agencies engaged in youth development work so as to ensure that the holistic
integration and inclusion of youth is entrenched in all national development plans for The Bahamas.

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1.2      Situation Analysis of The State of Bahamian Youth (2007-2012)

Young people under the age of 35 years comprise 58.4% per cent of the total population of The Bahamas
according to the Department of Statistics’ 2010 National Population Census. On average, over 5,000
young people leave high school each year, with few of them entering tertiary education. And while some
enter the work force, according to the Department of Statistics (2013 Labour Force Survey), the youth
unemployment rate stands at a dismal 34%. This provides an unclear picture for those who finish tertiary
education regarding their likelihood to find employment. With the recent economic decline and stagnation,
there are simply not enough jobs for youth, resulting in a continuous strain on public services and
resources, specifically in areas of health and education.

The education and employment issues confronting Bahamian youth today are highly correlated. For
example, employment and tertiary education amongst young people are linked to how much access they
have to skills training and the amount of Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE)
exams they have passed. However, with an average passing grade in the "D" range, the prospect of
attaining tertiary education is shadowy for many Bahamian youth and, with limited skill sets, the amount
of viable workers entering the work force also decreases.

With employment issues discouraging young people, social issues continue to rise. Crime and violence
appear to be devastating this age group, with the numbers of untimely deaths and length of days in
hospital on a generally upward climb. Young people have been found to be both the perpetrators, as well
as the victims in these cases. According to the Royal Bahamas Police Force Crime Statistics (2012),
young men ages 18-35 are responsible for over 80 percent of murders. Commissioner of Police, Ellison
Greenslade, commented that “young men who were habitual users of drugs and alcohol, were the
perpetrators of most of last year's crimes”.

Bahamian youth deal with a prevalence of violence that threatens their safety and wellbeing, disrupting
their ability to concentrate in school and at home. The study done by National Anti-Drug Secretariat of the
Ministry of National Security (2012) reported that an alarming 21.4% of secondary students were
physically attacked one or more times within the past year, which differs from the 40.4% of students who
were in a physical fight one or more times within the past year. These acts of physical violence, including
bullying and physical assault were also included in the report. With the prevalence of violence on and off
campus, it’s accordingly noted that students experience related difficulties, which tend to interrupt the
learning process.

A 2011 study done by National Anti-Drug Secretariat of the Ministry of National Security found that
alcohol abuse and the accompanying lackadaisical attitude towards it contributes to the declining health
of secondary school students. Approximately 70% of students used alcohol over their lifetime, with binge
drinking on the rise and females slightly surpassing males in the area of consumption (51.7% of females
versus 48.5% of males using in the last 12 months). Along with the prevalent use of marijuana by men,
and the attitude that such drugs are only slightly harmful or not harmful at all, The Bahamas is faced with
a sector of young people who are fast becoming dependent on escapism to deal with internal matters.
Drugs and alcohol are also sometimes the foundation and catalyst of reckless, impulsive and anti-social
acts/behaviours against and towards peers and society-at-large.

To add to the dilemma, health preservation and protection among young people seem to have been
pushed to the background. Despite the availability of birth control and education on family planning, the
rates of STI’s and HIV/AIDS related illnesses, as well as unplanned pregnancies are rising considerably.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic and its related illnesses have continued to negatively impact the health of youth,
being the number one killer of persons aged 15 - 44 in The Bahamas.

In addition to these pressing issues, Bahamian youth also struggle with the conundrum of creating an
identity for themselves from the barrage of cultures and countercultures that now exist in The Bahamas.
With the rapid development of technology, youth are overexposed to various cultures that run counter to
the very core of the traditionally defined Bahamian identity. Youth strive to emulate a “popular culture”

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that often promotes the values of materialism, violence and sexual promiscuity; thus, leading to further
degradation of the traditional conceptions of community and family life.

Within the population of young people, a group of marginalized youths are emerging that are
overcrowding the facilities designed to cater to their needs, i.e. Simpson Penn, Williamae Pratt Center for
Girls, SURE, TAPS, as well as the PACE program. These facilities are quickly becoming overpopulated
with youth who are considered a “nuisance” to the school system that has adopted a “no tolerance”
mindset towards any sort of misbehavior. There are numerous instances of students being put out of
schools for minimal offences, without trial or jury, and being told not to return. Due to this, many young
people, especially young males, come to associate the school system with negative experiences and
rejection

Within this group of marginalized youth lies a population of persons impacted by immigration laws, who
grapple with the challenge of defining their identity within Bahamian society. Often these youth consider
themselves to be Bahamian, because of being born on Bahamian soil and being culturally adapted to our
way of life; however, due to various socio-political reasons, their identity and citizenship within The
Bahamas are often delayed or even denied. Some turn to excelling in academics as a means of dealing
with this rejection. However, many, whether by choice or through circumstance, do not excel. Instead,
they turn to many of the same negative behaviors and cultural tendencies that have been identified
amongst marginalized Bahamian youth.

Marginalized and rejected, Bahamian youth seem to feel a sense of hopelessness. According to the
Bahamas Secondary School Drug Prevalence Survey, 2012), 22.7% of secondary school students
experience serious thoughts of suicide, 15.4% of them make plans for how they will kill themselves, and
10.6% of them admitted to attempting suicide at least once. The males are particularly at risk, considering
that they tend to use more lethal methods of killing themselves and are therefore more successful.

Youth in The Bahamas are also sidelined by large segments of the adult population that does not
recognize their opinions as valid.. They are often ignored and disregarded until needed to make up the
visual populous at rallies or to head a negative news story. The voice of the youth often goes unheard,
leading to a slow but steady buildup of frustration, creating a demand for greater youth contributions on a
national level.

Despite the plethora of negative statistics, there has not been, nor does there appear to be, any
coordinated effort or attempt to centralize youth development. What is even more disheartening is that
our youth have been excluded from the designing, planning and implementation of programmes and
policies that directly affect them.

There is a need for a comprehensive and holistic National Youth Policy to address these inequalities and
to help guide public and private sector investments in all areas that concern youth. The present analysis
identifies the various areas that are barriers to the fulfilment of young people’s rights, with special
attention given to the vulnerability of young people.

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1.3       Approach to Youth Development

Prior to the existence of a National Youth Policy for The Bahamas, the approach to youth development
primarily was guided by recommendations and proposals made to the government from the National
Youth Advisory Council. The Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture was then charged with the responsibility
for the initiation, development and execution of youth development programmes which were managed by
a Director of Youth who served as Head of Department. However, the Department of Youth is not
classified as a department, but a division that works with a diverse range of stakeholders including public
and private sector partnerships. This approach was often seen as dependent, subject to various political
agendas and lacked any collective or collaborative effort.

Investing in youth has not truly been a priority of national development in recent times because of the
perception that young people are misguided, irresponsible, and nefarious which has led to a lack of
significant investment by policy makers. Where national policy issues are concerned, youth throughout
The Bahamas have simply been approached through an ad-hoc, unilateral basis and as appendices to
government policies, rather than as an integral partner in national policies. Youth in The Bahamas cite
this social gap between the generations as the greatest affliction to their development. Therefore, this
policy will guide policy-makers on how to invest in the youth in order to repair national perceptions,
increase capacity and instil a sense of pride and allegiance to this Bahamaland.

Through an inter-ministerial, inter-agency, and multi-level approach, young people and their need for a
sustainable path to development will be brought to the forefront of The Bahamas’ agenda for national
development. Taking cue from other Caribbean and African Youth Policies, as developing counterparts,
the government is encouraged to rely on this policy as a guideline to deal with some of the critical issues
highlighted in the policy’s objectives. Accordingly, a practice of reciprocity is to be followed when dealing
with youth issues, especially since The Bahamas has no previous documented National Youth Policy to
incorporate all sectors of society who provide services to our youth. This approach is to be guided by the
following:

      ▪   Developing a comprehensive model of sustainable youth development that harnesses the
          copious yet disjointed and disintegrated programmes and services offered by various
          stakeholders;

      ▪   Aggressive national ‘Education and Youth Awareness’ Campaign that targets policy makers,
          programme administrators, service providers, parents, and custody institutions to ensure that
          adults become informed and responsible socialization agents for youth;

      ▪   Providing problem prevention and problem response services that cover a wide scope of areas
          where young people are finding hindrances to their development;

      ▪   Having an asset-based approach that moves youth from being seen as a problem to be solved
          (“youthism”) and more as an asset to be harnessed;

      ▪   Expand existing programs for the professionalization of youth work to ensure that they are not
          only accessible for Bahamian youth practitioners, but that they are designed to enhance the
          knowledge, skills and capacity of youth practitioners in the areas of at-risk behaviours and
          opportunity creation for young people;

      ▪   Expanding, extending and creating cooperative links between researched-based knowledge and
          the application of this knowledge by the MOYSC so that programmes and services are designed
          to provide enabling environments for young people at the community level; and

      ▪   Incorporating youth technical cadet programmes into relevant agencies, organizations and
          departments to facilitate intellectual/skill exchanges and create succession planning structures to
          positively mainstream our youth into society.

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1.4      DIVERSITY OF CONTEXTS (ISLAND PROFILES & REALITIES OF YOUNG PEOPLE)

Although The Bahamas is a relatively small island state, it consists of some 700 Islands and 2,400 Cays,
making it an archipelago with a landmass of 5,380 square miles and extending 100,000 square miles
across the western Atlantic Ocean, just south of Florida, USA. Currently, nineteen (19) of the islands are
populated by mostly African descendants. According to the Department Statistics’ 2012 Census, the
population is estimated at 371,960, with young people under the age of 29 accounting for 51% of that
figure. The Bahamas has a unique history of colonization, slavery, piracy and independence. The
geographic fragmentation and small size of The Bahamas often has serious implications for young
people, particularly those who live on the Family Islands. There are a number of common themes
between the islands, but pre-policy consultations with youth have revealed that each island also has its
own unique set of challenges and obstacles to youth development. To this end, the National Youth Policy
team saw fit to provide individual island profiles, unfettered, unedited, and uninfluenced, as perceived by
the young people in their various islands. They are as follows:

1.4.1. Abaco:
Need for better family involvement/interaction, biased/out of touch churches, “Black Crab syndrome”,
gangs, illegal immigration, lack of organized activities (e.g. recreational, sporting, Junkanoo), lack of
Bahamian-centric education (Bahamian History), lack of discipline among residents, lack of employment
training, lack of or insufficient counselling facilities, lack of jobs, lack of proper medical facilities, lack of
public transportation, lack of secondary vocational, technical and transitional programmes, low graduation
rates, poor housing, negative media and its influences, religion as a business, teenage pregnancy and
tension between ‘Bahamians’ and ‘Haitians’.

1.4.2 Acklins:
Better border protection needed, competition for commodities and services, disaster relief needed,
emergency vehicles needed, incompetent government departments, increased personnel investment in
education, increased tourism traffic, influence on the island’s identity from the island of Crooked Island,
lack of library resources, lack of technological facilities, lack of youth programmes, limited educational
courses, low employment, low maintenance of tourism sites, modern medical facilities lacking, need for
increased resources, no indoor restrooms at schools, no means of garbage disposal or recycling, lack of
proper educational facilities lacking, electricity supply and contingency lacking, proper financial services
lacking, public relations lacking, sporting facilities needed, straw market needed, sustainability, teenage
pregnancy, tourism facilities needed.

1.4.3 Andros:
Development needed for sporting programs, drug & alcohol rehabilitation centre needed, elders belittle
youth, employment positions held too long by older residents, ill-prepared teachers, lack of cultural
awareness, lack of financial literacy, lack of parental support, lack of tertiary programmes, lack of the
understanding of the importance of Junkanoo among residents, lack of tourism skills among residents,
need for a National Youth Training Programme, need for emergency vehicles, need for etiquette
programs, need for literacy programmes, need for sporting leagues, no opportunities for youth leadership,
no youth programs, parent training needed, paedophilia, proper medical facilities needed, strengthened
Social Services department needed, trained medical officers needed, training programmes for youth
pastors and leaders needed, truancy issues, verbal abuse, violations of teacher-student relations need to
be enforced.

1.4.4 Berry Islands:
Corruption in law enforcement, drug dealing, disconnect between religious denominations, illegal
gambling, lack of library personnel, lack of medical professionals, lack of mentors & guidance counsellors,
lack of sporting facilities and equipment, lack of sincere religious leaders, lack of specialty subjects in
schools, Social Services department lacking, teenage pregnancy, void of young religious leaders.

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1.4.5 Bimini:
Church is a business, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, domestic abuse, health issues (diabetes,
cancer and hypertension), high crime levels, high cost of living, high rates of sexual activity/promiscuity,
HIV/AIDs at rising levels, lack of counsellors, lack of extracurricular activities, lack of positive role models,
lack of governmental support, lack of medical personnel, lack of specialized governmental offices, lack of
tertiary educational opportunities and educational programming, lack of technical & vocational subjects,
lack of qualified law enforcement officers, limited library resources, low security level on the island, need
for newer school facilities, poor education system, psychological abuse and a small employment pool.

1.4.6 Cat Island:
Bad roads, broken family structure, drug and alcohol abuse, insufficient medical equipment, lack of
cultural exposure, lack of food resources for the less-fortunate, lack of guidance counsellors in schools,
lack of jobs, lack of sporting facilities, lack of sufficient scholarships for students, lack of industry
diversification, more medical personnel needed, no dentists, no hospital, no facilities for the
physically/mentally disabled, no incentives for youth to stay on the island, no job training and vocational
programmes, no parks or recreational centres, no specialized electives in school, no support of
entrepreneurial interests, no tertiary educational offerings, under-age partying and unemployment.

1.4.7 Crooked Island:
Abuse of media, corrupt police officers, dock is partially broken down, dictatorial pastors, external
transports (land and air) are broken, lack of motivation of youth, lack of teachers in specialized areas,
negative gossip amongst residents, negative preconceived perceptions of youth among residents, no
apprenticeship programmes, no church youth programmes, no fire department, no funding for sports, no
library, no professional coaches, no medical personnel, no proper equipment for sporting events, no
technical programmes, no tertiary education, runways (airport) are in disrepair, shortage of teachers and
teenage pregnancy.

1.4.8 Eleuthera:
Favouritism shown in schools, foreign teachers have a disconnect with students and students have a
disconnect with the foreign teachers, forgery of legal documents by teachers, insufficient extracurricular
activities, insufficient medical staff, lack of long-term employment, lack of professional coaches for
students, lack of sporting facilities, molestation, nepotism, poor medical facilities, residents are ill-informed
on current issues, rivalry between the settlements and teachers and students partying together.

1.4.9 Exuma:
Biased scholarship distribution, brain drain, communication barrier between the young and the old,
corrupt law enforcement, drug and alcohol abuse, high crime levels, high levels of promiscuity, inaccurate
stigmatization of young people, infrequent career/college fairs, insufficient amount of courses offered in
schools and at the local COB, insufficient amount of teachers in schools, lack of a regular magistrate
court, lack of a sporting facility, lack of arts, crafts and Junkanoo in schools, lack of cable television, lack
of entrepreneurial opportunities, job training or placement, technical and vocational programmes, lack of
knowledge about contraceptives among residents, lack of knowledge about sustainability & recycling
among residents, lack of knowledge about the island among residents, lack of low-cost housing for
youth, lack of modern medical facilities, lack of opportunities for global exposure for youth, lack of positive
social activities & places such as recreational centres, lack of funding for the island, lack of transportation
system for residents, lack of weather warning system, loss of cultural identity among residents, loss of
island pride among residents, low awareness of STDs, no financial literacy programmes, no funding for
athletes, no voice in politics concerning the island, segregation among churches and their events, stuck-
in-past youth leaders and unreported abuse.

1.4.10 Grand Bahama:
Abusive law enforcement, alcohol abuse, church is no longer a sanctuary, corrupt law enforcement,
deteriorated health care facilities, domestic abuse, drug abuse, failing education system, gang violence,
high crime rate, high rate of STDs, ill-informed citizens, incest & molestation, insufficient jobs, insufficient
teachers, lack of proper prison facilities, lack of a proper recreational facility, lack of a research centre,

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lack of coaches who care about youth, lack of confidentiality among professionals, lack of medical cadet
programme for youth, lack of mentors & spiritual programs, lack of parental guidance, lack of scholarships
for students, lack of sporting equipment, lack of support & funding from government, loss of family
structure, low self-esteem among residents, more medical personnel needed, more structured
educational & technical facilities needed, negative perception of youth among residents, no family
planning programs, peer-pressure, police harassment, poor parenting, poor structural development of
buildings, qualified young people being turned away from jobs, teachers with unsavoury backgrounds,
teenage pregnancies, unsavoury persons becoming pastors and youth not feeling welcome.

1.4.11 Inagua:
Activities for youth needed, coaches & equipment needed, deteriorated/damaged schools, drug abuse,
high unemployment rate, lack of diversified employment opportunities/offerings ,lack of sporting facilities,
negative attitudes and mentalities of residents, parents’ denial of children’s wrong-doing, poor
communication among residents, sexual abuse and a high teenage sex rate.

1.4.12 Long Island:
Deteriorating health care facilities and resources, lack of guidance and discipline, lack of education on
sustainability, lack of encouragement to develop local resources, lack of governmental support, lack of
incentives to return to island, lack of industrial opportunities, lack of judicial strength, lack of materials
and resources for education and training, lack of parental supervision, lack of positive recreational and
social activities, lack of programmes for ‘special’ students, lack of youth empowerment programmes, lack
of youth involvement in decision-making processes, nepotism, poor external transportation, poor sporting
facilities and unavailability of technical and vocational opportunities.

1.4.13 Mayaguana:
Abortion, anger issues among residents, corrupt law enforcement, drug abuse, nepotism, education
does not support the disabled or slow learners, expensive transportation, gang violence, hatred among
residents, high dropout rates, incest, lack of access to technology, lack of church organizations/activities,
lack of educational resources, lack of encouragement for youth, lack of extracurricular activities, lack of
food sources, lack of investment opportunities, lack of a library, lack of media resources, lack of medical
personnel, lack of sporting facilities, lack of teachers, negative relationships among residents, no
apprenticeship opportunities, paedophilia,, [physical abuse, prejudice, rape, settlement segregation,
sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, high cost of food/living and violence between teachers and students.

1.4.14 New Providence:
Alcohol abuse, antiquated church mindset, authority figures abusing rights and power, constant
breaches of trust and confidence, corrupt law enforcement, corrupt mindset of youth division in the
church, domestic abuse, drug dealing and using, ignorance of youth issues among residents, improper
nutrition, inadequate laws, insufficient medical facilities, lack of job opportunities, lack of parental
involvement with children and lack of proper parental guidance, lack of sex education, loss of Bahamian
Identity, loss of family structure, molestation, negative media influence, nepotism, peer pressure,
prostitution, religious hypocrites, teenage pregnancy and youth taking on the role of parents with their
siblings.

1.4.15 San Salvador:
Drug and alcohol abuse, high rate of theft, involvement in gambling, high rate of unemployed youth,
influence of negative media, lack of diversified industries, lack of jobs, lack of emergency vehicles, lack
of interest in the youth, lack of positive activities, lack of sporting facilities, limited course offerings, no
medical personnel and outdated educational equipment.

These are the candid and uncontaminated views of young people ages 15 years to 29 years that were expressed to the National Youth Policy Team
over a six (6) year research period (2007 – 2013) from various youth forums which were conducted by the team to determine what issues young
people perceived to be hindering their development.

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1.6       Rationale for a National Youth Policy of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas

Since gaining independence in 1973, far-reaching opportunities were created through a transformative
process that included the development of legislation and policies to guide the national development of
The Bahamas and to improve the quality of life for its citizens. Similarly, there was a great need for youth
development in the early Bahamas, as many young Bahamians were not afforded equal opportunities to
education, employment and healthcare prior to Majority Rule. From as far back as the late 1960s and
early 1970s, men like former Member of Parliament Edmund Moxey, had criticised the Government for
failing to include community youth programmes in its national budget. History remembers Mr. Moxey’s
one-man protest on the floor of the House of Assembly on December 12, 1973, wearing placards on his
chest and back, one of which said, “Mr. Prime Minister, how much do you care? Community Youth and
Jumbey Village thrown out of the budget. Help save the people and the country.”

It wasn’t until 1977, that the “Father of the Nation”, the late Sir Lynden Pindling, established the Ministry
of Youth, Sports & Community Affairs. As Minister, Mr. Kendal W. Nottage used the combination of
sporting events and community activities as a medium to build the talent of young people in The
Bahamas. However, his 1977 model for youth development still remains the same model used today by
the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture. Several attempts have been made by previous Directors of Youth
to implement a National Youth Policy for The Bahamas and the need to develop a National Youth Policy
was also identified by the Consultative Committee on National Youth Development’s Report in 1994.
Although a Policy was drafted, it was never introduced or adopted, and it is on this basis that the National
Youth Policy Team continued its six (6) year-long campaign of consultative and drafting efforts to
continuously lobby the government for the implementation of a National Youth Policy. Subsequent
government reports, like the ‘National Commission on Crime Report 1998’, and ‘The Situation of Youth in
The Bahamas 2005’ revealed that not much has changed since the Consultative Committee on National
Youth Development 1994 report, nor has the structure, funding, management and services of Ministry of
Youth, Sports & Culture seen any revisions.

While addressing youth delegates at the ‘National Youth Partnership Summit 2012 (NYPS 12)’, where
The Minister of Youth, Sports & Culture, The Hon. Dr. Daniel Johnson was also presented with a copy of
the Draft National Youth Policy of The Bahamas, prepared by the National Youth Policy Consultative
Team led by Mr. Tavarrie D. Smith and vetted by the NYPS 12 delegates, the Hon. Dr. Daniel Johnson,
Minister of Youth, Sports & Culture said, “This is an exciting time for us here at the Ministry of Youth, and
perhaps the single greatest development we have made towards Youth Development as a country, since
the establishment of the Youth Division. You have my commitment that this Policy will be No. 1 on my
agenda, and I certainly will do my best to honour that commitment in the coming months.” It is in that spirit
that Minister Johnson has urged all stakeholders within his ministry to “intensify their efforts” towards the
implementation of this 2014 National Youth Policy for The Bahamas.

The rationale for this National Youth Policy is based on the historical account of the development of the
Ministry responsible for youth in The Bahamas, the situational analysis of young people in The Bahamas
and the national/international commitments made on behalf of the Government of The Bahamas including
but not limited to the following:

      1. (1978) United Nations Resolutions on Youth (The Commission for Social Development):
         Since 1978 up to 2011, the General Assembly of the United Nations has produced over twenty
         (20) plus resolutions, with The Bahamas agreeing and signing onto many of them. Some of the
         key articles of these resolutions called for the “recognition of young people as an active part of
         society and important actors for social development” and went on to “encourage Member States
         to involve young people and youth organisations in all aspects of youth development”. A number
         of these resolutions were very specific and “urged governments, in consultations with youth
         organisations to develop holistic and integrated youth policies ... to enhance inter-agency
         arrangements on youth policies and programmes, with a view to improving coordination and
         enhancing synergies among relevant system activities in this regard”. Thus, the implementation of

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    this 2014 National Youth Policy of The Bahamas will bring The Bahamas in compliance with its
    international commitments.

2. (1994): Consultative Committee on National Youth Development Report. The report
   identified the need for a “Bahamas National Youth Policy, which proposes to aim at the
   development of all young persons, particularly high-risk youth, most of whom are out –of-school
   and in transition to full adulthood and citizenship , with a view to ensure their full positive and
   meaningful participation in the life of the Bahamian society.” (1994:92)

3. (1995): The World Summit for Social Development. The Policy seeks to acknowledge the
   significance of social development and human well–being for all. At The World Summit for Social
   Development, The Bahamas agreed on the adoption of ‘The Copenhagen Declaration on Social
   Development and the Programme of Action’ in Denmark, 6-12 March 1995. The Honourable
   Theresa Moxey-Ingraham, Minister of Health and Environment, in her address stated that “a final
   concern is a rapidly increasing youth segment of our population and the inability of our economic
   system to provide them with gainful employment, coupled with this is a growing awareness that
   an out-dated school system fails to equip the great majority of our young people with life skills
   and training opportunities that will enable them to find jobs after school. The results of this
   problem are no different from anywhere else in the world – increasing marginalisation of our
   young people, alienation, social deviance and increasing poverty.” The commitments of the
   declaration also included an action by governments to “enhance government policies and
   programmes to promote social development.”

4. (2005): ‘The Situation of Youth in The Bahamas’. Prepared by Loraine Blank PhD. For The
   Government of The Bahamas and the Inter-American Development Bank: The report identified
   the challenges for the future, and stated, “Most Bahamian youth make a successful transition
   from childhood to adulthood. However, many young people are not doing well and are at risk from
   a multitude of social and economic factors.” It also recommended a variety of initiatives, and a
   multifaceted approach in addressing the development of young people in The Bahamas. It stated,
   “The challenges are formidable and financial and human resources will be required to address
   them. However, it is important to remember that the negative behaviours of youth are also costly-
   not only to the youth themselves but also to society as a whole. In the long run, investments in
   youth can be expected reap significant returns. It is important to understand that promoting
   optimal youth development will require a long planning horizon. Short-term interventions are
   required to address the needs of today’s youth; long-term strategies are required to promote
   optimal development and thereby, reduce the magnitude of youth-at-risk problem among
   tomorrow’s youth.”

                                                                                                    th
5. (2006): Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (CYMM 6). The Bahamas hosted the 6
                           th   th
   CYMM, from on the 24 – 26 May, 2006 and led the charge for the implementation of a number
   of youth friendly recommendations and resolutions. One of the key commitments made by Youth
   Ministers was for the development and empowerment of young people as a fundamental
   Commonwealth goal. Through the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP), the Commonwealth
   has developed national youth policies from the early 1970s, as it believes “the creation of NYPs is
   an acknowledgment of the specific needs of young men and women, as well as formal
   recognition of their unique contribution to national development. NYPs provide a means and a
   symbol for society as a whole to declare, document and intensify their commitment to their young
   citizens, and an occasion to determine appropriate priorities, goals and strategies.” The
   Government of The Bahamas, along with other Commonwealth Youth Ministers released a
   Communiqué and a Message to the CHOGM 2007 where they endorsed youth mainstreaming as
   the core approach for implementation of a strategic plan. The endorsement stated a commitment
   to “integrate national youth policies into their economic development policy in the context of
   sustainable youth development” and the endorsement of “an asset based approach to youth
   policy formulation that recognises the link to democratic youth – centred involvement in the
   design, monitoring and evaluation of policy and related youth programmes.” It also called for

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