KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 9, 2021: At the launch of its youth month campaign today, the Peoples National Party, PNP, used the occasion to highlight the plight of tens of thousands of youth who have suffered enormous learning loss, or who have been completely lost to the system during the last two years of the pandemic.
The PNP says it is unacceptable that so many of our youth have not not been engaged with the education system during the pandemic, and fears that the consequences for their lives, careers and the productivity of the country will be catastrophic in the medium to long term.
The PNP made these assertions this morning at its “Saving our Jamaica” campaign launch, where Shadow Minister of Youth and Sports, Senator Gabriela Morris said, “One of the groups hardest hit during the pandemic are students with disabilities and therefore the PNP is using the opportunity of the launch to highlight their plight and to respond in a modest way to assist with some tablets to alleviate their situation.”
Party President Mark J. Golding presented the first tablet to the Director of Business Development at the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, Deniese Badroe, to signal the official start of the campaign. Saving our Youth aims to provide funding for some 300 tablets in its first run, and will see some vulnerable students across the island being given an opportunity to access schooling from their smartphones.
Speaking to the PNP’s commitment to creating an inclusive climate for youth in Jamaica, Mr Golding said, “When we form the next government, the PNP will eliminate the need for a guarantor for student loan applications, thereby removing structural barriers towards accessing education. We will also ensure that loan payments are capped at 15% of the monthly income of tertiary students, taking the burden of excessive loan payments off young people.”
The Opposition Leader also committed to advancing a national mentorship programme, which will provide remedial education, and life skills training to help our youth become more productive citizens. He said, “we must ensure that this cohort is given another option towards gaining an education or finding social and economic harmony. This will ensure that we achieve a more hopeful, inclusive, safe and secure Jamaica.”
Also speaking at the event, Shadow Minister of Education, Dr. Angela Brown-Burke said, “What we do with our Children today will determine the future of our country. The PNP will leave no child behind and we are working to reduce the gap between the two Jamaicas, particularly in education. We must increase access to education as it is the greatest cure for poverty.”
Rasheen Roper-Robinson echoed the sentiments of her senior counterpart in the Education portfolio saying that we must think radically and creatively about addressing the needs of our youth. “Evolving in our approach to ‘saving our youth’, we should create avenues for young people to help set the agenda for their development. This requires a revolutionary shift, where we are inclusive, diverse and collaborative in our approach to saving our young people.”
The ‘Save Our Youth’ campaign seeks to address the digital divide, by providing students with technical resources such as computers and tablets to access online classes. The Campaign was launched in response to the many challenges faced by our nation’s youth as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent closure of schools.