BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, SEPTEMBER 25TH, 2016 (PRESS SEC) – Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris told the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, Saturday, September 24th, that “of critical importance to the transformation of our world is the empowerment of our youth.”
Prime Minister Harris, who is Minister of Finance, Sustainable Development, Information, National Security, People Empowerment and Constituency Empowerment in St. Kitts and Nevis, said that, “There is a common view that significant intervention is required in order to nurture aspiration, vision, leadership and a sense of civic responsibility. By providing opportunities for their constructive engagement in critical matters that directly affect them and society, we can transform their frustration to meaningful empowerment.”
Dr. Harris added that, “We should tackle head-on the increased incidence of youth-on-youth violence. Youth violence is invariably symptomatic of deeper societal issues. We cannot dismiss the apparent despair of the youth. We have to find ways to make them see that violence is not the answer by adopting a multisectoral and integrated approach. In St. Kitts and Nevis, we are focused on job creation, skills enhancement, entrepreneurship, counselling and support to teen mothers and the provision of other social services.”
Prime Minister Harris has publicly recognized the important interventions that experts in child care, mental health and parenting can make in helping to reduce crime among young people who are at or under the age of 35 – a demographic that not only accounts for approximately 65% of the population of St. Kitts and Nevis, but also disproportionately comprises both victims and perpetrators of violent crime.
During Dr. Harris’ feature address at the passing out parade for recruits of the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force on April 14th, 2016, he said that, “Truancy programs, parenting workshops, mentoring initiatives and the like can play a vital role inreducing homicides and violent crime, so we need all hands on board not only in the public sector, but in civil society to open up rehabilitative avenues for our families and, more importantly, our young people.”
In his official address to mark the occasion of the Team Unity Administration’s first anniversary in office on February 16th, 2016, Prime Minister Harris noted five points related to the country’s youth, parents and families that he said require “collective, national effort on a consistent basis.” These are:
– Abatement of crime, especially homicides among our young men,
– Strengthening of families,
– Return to positive influences for young people,
– Parenting skills and responsibility, and
– Inculcation of life skills, anger management training, conflict resolution and diversion programs to bring about positive attitudinal and behavioural changes in our youth.
At the 2015 National Consultation on the Economy hosted by the Ministry of Finance under the theme Changing Lives – A Fresh Start Towards Sustainable Development, Growth and Prosperity, Prime Minister Harris said his Unity Government “intends to examine in detail, with a view to enhancing in a significant way, parenting programs and the systems that are in place to reduce truancy.”
In his Independence Day Message to Kittitians and Nevisians on September 19th, 2016, the Honourable Prime Minister essentially outlined how the transformative idea of Changing Lives – A Fresh Start Towards Sustainable Development, Growth and Prosperity, put forth at the 2015 National Consultation on the Economy, is materializing in the everyday experiences of Kittitians and Nevisians.
“There are many ongoing projects where those in need of jobs can find work,” Prime Minister Harris said on September 19th, St. Kitts and Nevis’ 33rdAnniversary of Independence. “Over 200-plus have benefited from our affordable Fresh Start Loan Programme. As we attempt to provide that well-needed financing for small and medium-sized enterprises, we will invest another $30 million over the next two years into the Fresh Start Programme. Our Housing Programme will get started in earnest before year-end, bringing well-needed housing solutions to our people most in need of them. The future prospects are bright and encouraging. Several hotels are to come on stream shortly, adding well-paying jobs to the economy,” Dr. Harris added.
In his 2016 Independence Day Message, the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis also focused on the country’s young people, who increasingly are attaining academic success. “Our young people are excelling. They are surpassing traditional best standards in their performances at secondary school and at sixth form. We hail the new high set by Rol-J Williams with his 17 CXC passes with distinction. More of our people are pursuing tertiary-level education in the Caribbean, the Americas, Asia, the Pacific and elsewhere in the world. Given the critical role that tertiary-level education can play in the development of a country, we are happy to witness such expansion in the number of participants at this level of education and training,” Prime Minister Harris said.
“Our aim is to ensure that by 2030 every family household will boast a graduate,” the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis told the nation six days ago.