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Youth and Childhood
Ministerials Paragraphs Related to the Theme Paragraphs VII Summit

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Date:  3/21/2012 
Children (0 - <18 years)
In 2010 there were approximately 895,000 children (458 800 males and 436 200 females) in Jamaica, representing 33.1 per cent of the population. While the dependent elderly group (65+) accounts for the fastest growing segment of the population, children still account for a significant proportion of the population.
The Government of Jamaica and its partners recognize that children are among the most vulnerable in the society and remain committed to enforcing their rights to protection, provision and participation. This is in keeping with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), UN Standard Rules, the National Policy on Children, the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA) and other policies, legislations and international commitments. The period (2006 to present) has seen the establishment of an Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) and an Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) in keeping with the requirements of the CCPA.
Through the support of its International Development partners, the Government has embarked on initiatives to improve the situation of children in general, while building capacity and strengthening the policy framework. This is being achieved through a number of interventions including:
1. GOJ/UNICEF Country Programme
2. The GOJ/IIN Child Rights Project
3. The GOJ/IBRD Early Childhood Development Project

Child abuse, violence against children and poverty continue to be major challenges facing children in Jamaica. However, since 2005 several policy directives, legislations, programmes and institutions have been developed to address these issues. These include:
• The enactment of the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act
• Ananda Alert – national system to track missing children
• National Plan of Action on Child Justice
• Child Pornography Act
• Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (see section on Poverty and Social Protection), which provides welfare benefits to poor families.

Advancements have been made on the following:
The National Framework of Action for Children (NFAC)
National Plan of Action for an Integrated Response to children and Violence (Draft)
Evidence Amendment Act
(See section on Public Security)

Increased attention is also being paid to other vulnerable children including children at risk, children with disabilities, and street and working children. The programmes and initiatives to support these children include:
1. The GOJ/ILO Tackling Child Labour through Education (TACKLE) project
2. Possibility Programme
3. GOJ/IDB Disability Technical Cooperation Project

Early childhood development is a key strategic priority for the government. A five-year National Strategic Plan (NSP) for the early childhood sector was developed in 2008. Some of the priorities of the NSP are: preventative healthcare for children 0-6 years; parenting education and support; curriculum development and training for practitioners; and regulation of Early Childhood Institutions (ECIs). The Ministry of Health, through its National Breastfeeding Programme targets the early childhood sector and offers support to mother, including those with HIV/AIDS.

Research and data collection remain important areas of focus. The government continues to support the annual Caribbean Child Research Conference spearheaded by the University of the West Indies. There is also a thrust towards the inclusion of a child-related database of indicators included in the national database (JamStats).
The initiatives for Children are being undertaken by a number of ministries and agencies including the Child Development Agency, the Office of the Children’s Advocate, Office of the Children’s Registry, the Early Childhood Commission, the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. The Planning Institute of Jamaica continues to identify and guide the policy process and track the implementation of programmes to improve the well-being of vulnerable groups, including children. The Education and Training as well as the Social Welfare and Vulnerable Groups sector plans of Vision 2030 Jamaica – National Development Plan provide the framework for bringing the situation of children to developed country status by 2030.
Paragraphs: 19, 39, 87 Paragraphs VII Summit: -

Date:  3/21/2012 
The Government of Jamaica (GOJ) has for a long time, had a strategic focus on youth development, and since 2005, the GOJ has taken steps to enhance the youth policy framework and the suite of programmes geared at addressing this issue. The main highlights are mentioned below.
There are several institutions that undertake skills training and other youth development initiatives in Jamaica. Among them, the Human Employment and Resource Training Trust/National Training Agency (HEART Trust/NTA) is the main institution. Founded in 1982, HEART facilitates the development of a more skilled and productive workforce, thereby increasing the employability of workers and the competitiveness of Jamaican businesses and the economy through the provision of training to persons 17 years old and over in several occupational fields.
HEART Trust/NTA is a beacon of best practices in the areas of training and certification and is a model institution for vocational training regionally and globally. This institution has through innovative means, successfully sought to increase enrolment and output. Since 2005, the number of graduates annually has increased by approximately 40.0 per cent to reach 46 000 in 2010.
The National Youth Service (NYS) is a programme that is tackling youth unemployment through training in soft skills and the provision of internships. The NYS’s emphasis is the personal development of youth, for effective functioning at the workplace. It was initially established in 1973 before being closed in 1983. It was re-established in 1995 and continues to play a critical role in preparing youth for the school-to-work transition. During 2010, all the programmes offered by the NYS were redesigned to ensure alignment with HEART/NTA standards, allowing participants to receive the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) level II certification upon completion.
The Special Youth Employment and Training Project (SYEAT) was launched in October 2008 as an active labour market programme to improve the situation of youth in the labour market. The project, which is spearheaded by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) targets young persons within the 18–25 age group for the purpose of providing internships, on-the-job training, literacy training where necessary, skills training and certification.
The project aims to raise the level of training and certification and decrease unemployment among youth. The management of the project rests with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS), however, it collaborates with several organizations to provide the requisite services. These include the HEART Trust/NTA, the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL), the NYS, and the Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF), as well as several organizations in the private and public sectors that provide employment for beneficiaries of the project. The project is active in all 14 parishes and is expected to have a lifespan of four years, with one cohort of 2 500 youth expected to participate each year. SYEAT specifically targets the most vulnerable youth, i.e. those with no formal training or certification.
The Youth Empowerment Strategy (YES) is a programme which seeks to empower at-risk young persons 16–30 years old to channel their efforts into productive endeavours. The programme, which began operation in October 2008, provides financial assistance to beneficiaries that can be used to pay tuition fees or for small business ventures. The Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) is the lead coordinating agency for this programme.
In 2009, work commenced under the Youth Development Programme Phase I, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), aimed at facilitating the transition of unattached youth to adulthood and the world of work. The first phase of the programme focuses on strengthening institutional capacity to implement, monitor and evaluate youth policies and programs, support ongoing transformation of the NYS and test new initiatives for unattached youth. Specifically, the NYS is seeking to broaden its target group to include those youth who currently do not qualify for entry to its flagship programme (the Corps Programme) because they don’t meet the minimum academic requirement of two subject passes at the level of CXC, GCE of SSC.
The second phase would build upon the results of the first phase, taking into account the results of the external evaluation and lessons learned. In particular, Phase II aims to complete the transformation of NYS and expand newly tested initiatives that prove successful, in an attempt to reach a larger percentage of the target group, improve the mechanisms for collaboration among youth-serving organizations, and increase the coverage of the Youth Information Centres (YICs), which are youth-friendly spaces that provide youth with access to information technology (IT) resources and counselling on issues such as sexual and reproductive health and career guidance. All of these initiatives are expected to aid in improving the effectiveness of the NYS and the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD) and therefore contribute to increasing the employability of youth and ultimately increase youth employment. The NCYD is the national body responsible for the coordination of youth policies and programmes across the public sector.
The National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD) and the NYS, the two agencies responsible for the technical execution of the programme activities, have thus far concluded several project activities including a national youth survey to inform a revision of the National Youth Policy (2004); and a preliminary impact evaluation of the NYS programmes.
In 2009, the GOJ launched the Young Entrepreneurs Programme (YEP). This programme provides training and funding for school leavers at the secondary and tertiary levels to pursue entrepreneurial activity. The key elements of YEP are as follows:
• General business training;
• The provision of technical assistance;
• Specialized training on how to run a business; and
• Access to loans.
Paragraphs: 19, 39, 87 Paragraphs VII Summit: -

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