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LONDON, Mar 15 2017 – Tricia Teekah from Guyana has been named Commonwealth Caribbean Young Person of the Year.

Teekah co-founded the Guyana National Youth Council with the aim of enhancing youth empowerment, engagement, inclusion and participation.

She led the ‘Vote Like a Boss’ campaign, a youth voter education initiative which used private sector partnerships to educate young voters. The campaign reached more than 16,000 young people within a month and more than 1,300 young people participated in an online geo-mapping exercise on voter issues.

She also pioneered the formation of a core committee for the establishment of a National Students’ Movement in Guyana and lobbied for student bodies in secondary and post-secondary educational institutions.

On learning of her award, Tricia said: “I hope it will inspire young people not only in Guyana and the Caribbean region but across the Commonwealth to be bold and to take ownership of the future of their communities and the world at large.”

“Receiving this award for a project crafted on the principles of democracy, human rights, youth political participation and engagement is a reflection and commitment of the Commonwealth Secretariat to Article 13 of the Charter of the Commonwealth. It promulgates the rewards and fruits of teamwork, partnership and private sector collaboration in light of the tremendous success of the project.

“This award will increase awareness of a relatively new, youth-led and independent National Youth Council in Guyana and its innovative initiatives that are intended to encourage youth contribution to development and creating a sustainable environment. It will be leverage to further engage all stakeholders to strengthen partnerships and collaboration.”

The Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work, an initiative of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s youth programme, celebrate outstanding young adults aged under 30 who are leading initiatives ranging from poverty alleviation to peace-building.

This year’s winners, drawn from over 200 entries, are recognised for spearheading projects that will contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals – a set of 17 global targets that governments have committed to achieve by 2030.

The awards ceremony was held on March 15 at Marlborough House, the Commonwealth’s headquarters in London.

Awards were presented by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, who praised all this year’s finalists for their efforts to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.

This year’s winners were drawn from a shortlist of 17 finalists from 13 countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malawi, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, Uganda and United Kingdom.

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BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Feb 27 2017 – The Nevis Debating Team has won a decisive victory in the 2017 edition of the Leeward Islands Debating Competition (LIDC).

The competition, now in its 45th year, was held at the Nevis Performing Arts Centre from Thursday, February 23 to Sunday, February 26.

The full Nevis team consisted of Gabriella Brantley, Rol-J Williams, K-Jel Smithen, Jaheel Linton, Mckebou Tross, Rickila Hanley and teacher, Ms. M. Jahnel Nisbett.

Asked to propose the moot: “The atrocity of our age is the billions of dollars spent on sports,” Brantley and Williams defeated their rivals from neighboring Antigua with a final score of 578 to 489 to win the competition.

Brantley was judged the Best Speaker in Sunday night’s final while 16-year old Smithen took home the award for the Best Overall Speaker.

Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris has extended his congratulations to the team.

Seven islands participated in this year’s competition. They were St. Kitts, Montserrat, Antigua, Anguilla, St. Maarten, the British Virgin Islands and host island Nevis.

The 45th Leeward Islands Debating Competition was hosted by the Literary and Debating Society of the Nevis Sixth Form College.

The LIDC, founded in 1972 by George Irish of Montserrat, began with three participating islands; Montserrat, St. Kitts and Antigua. It has since evolved into an annual event.

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New school in Anse a Pitres, Haiti. December 6, 2011. (Christian Fuchs ÑÊJesuit Refugee Service/USA)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Dec 07 2016 – More than 30,000 children will benefit from a grant awarded to the University of Notre Dame by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve early-grade literacy in Haiti.

The grant is a part of a broader national campaign of the Haitian Catholic Church and its partners to improve literacy outcomes in 1,000 Haitian Catholic schools in the next four years (2016-2020). The USAID grant, which will cover 150 schools, will start in September in Grand Anse and Sud departments in southern Haiti. It will be led by the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Haiti, in partnership with the Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education (CEEC) and the Ministry of National Education and Training (MENFP).

This initiative was always intended for the Grand-Anse and Sud departments, but following Hurricane Matthew in October, the need has become even more critical. Rev. Timothy R. Scully, C.S.C., the Hackett Family Director of Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives, said: “Read Haiti will allow us to serve these stricken communities by improving educational outcomes for some of the neediest children.”

By the third grade, 49 percent of Haitian students cannot read. Read Haiti will build upon the success of earlier literacy efforts by Notre Dame, CRS and CEEC in 47 schools in the northern part of the country using a curriculum that includes textbooks, class libraries and structured teacher guides to improve children’s skills in writing and reading in Creole, the native language of 95 percent of Haitians, with a transition to oral French. The project will also fund efforts to train and coach teachers, improve teacher-training modules and work with the Ministry of Education and other partners to support improved literacy learning throughout Haiti.

USAID Haiti Mission Director Jene Thomas highlighted the importance of USAID cooperation with the Ministry of Education of Haiti in the area of early grade reading. “Strengthening early-grade reading and writing is a priority for the Ministry of Education, and we are proud to support this effort to ensure Haiti’s children have the basic education skills they need to advance and, ultimately, contribute to Haiti’s progress.”

USAID awarded $6.3 million to support the initiative.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity to show what is possible,” said TJ D’Agostino, associate director for ACE. “Public-private partnerships that leverage the commitment, reach and global networks of the Catholic Church promise to make a transformative impact on the Haitian educational system.”

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By Desmond Brown – Executive Editor

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Dec 02 2016 – Barbadian Jamilla Sealy is on the Queen’s Young Leader’s List for 2017, it has been announced here.

Britain’s Prince Harry made the announcement Wednesday night as he addressed a massive crowd at Kensington Oval at the start of the 50th independence mega concert.

“Jamilla is passionate about the environment. She teaches environmental science to children and helps to organise communities here in Barbados to keep beaches clean and to understand the threats posed by climate change,” Prince Harry said.

“She’s represented your country at United Nations meetings and is now creating an online map to identify illegal dump sites. Jamilla is a strong Barbadian young leader and I’m delighted to announce that she can now call herself one of the Queen’s Young Leaders for 2017.

“She has been selected as one of the 60 exceptional young people from across the Commonwealth who are making an extraordinary impact in the lives of others. She will travel to London next year to build relationships with her peers from around the world and to be honoured by Her Majesty at Buckingham Place.”

Meantime, the Prince said it was up to the young people to write the next 50 years of Barbados’ story.

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ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, Nov 11 2016 – The Ministry of Education has launched an investigation into the circulation of a video allegedly showing two secondary school children engaged in sexual activities.

“We are extremely concerned, we are dealing with school children and they need to know that they are governed by the Education Act,” said Education Minister Anthony Boatswain.

“It seems as though there are two levels of investigations that have to be done, one it’s a criminal act by violating the Electronic Crimes Act and transmitting certain images electronically over the internet. Then we will have a police investigation,” Boatswain told reporters.

“From the Ministry’s point of view we have to determine what transpired in terms of children not in compliance with the rules and regulation of the school,” he said, while confirming that in addition to the investigation, the Ministry has already sent additional counsellors to the school.

The video of the students which clearly shows the female student in her school uniform, has been posted on the social website, Facebook and other social media platforms despite several request to have it removed as an infringement of the Nudity and Sex act.

Grenada’s Electronic Crimes Act makes it illegal for anyone to engage in child pornography.

“A person shall not knowingly and without lawful justification or excuse publish or transmit or cause to be published or transmitted material in an electronic form which depicts a child engaged in sexually explicit act or conduct; create text or digital images, collect, seek, browse, download, advertise, promote, exchange or distribute material in an electronic form depicting a child in obscene or indecent or sexually explicit manner.”

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LONDON, Nov 10 2016 – Manuela Lue (Belize), has been named Commonwealth Youth Worker of the Year for the Caribbean and Americas.

Lue is the director of the Energy for Life programme, which mentors and tutors under-privileged Belizean youth in handicraft production, connecting them with their culture and enabling them to earn a living.

“Youth workers do an extremely important job which is moulding the minds and shaping the hearts of all these young people,” Lue said.

“It is very important as there’s a lot of work that goes into making these young people productive and responsible citizens. I hope to go back with more ideas about how to grow the programme and how to make it bigger and better.”

The Commonwealth Youth Worker Awards were announced during Youth Work Week 2016, which runs from 7-13 November.

The theme of the week this year is ‘Empowering young people through sport and arts’, acknowledging the creative and innovative techniques employed by youth workers to deliver effective youth empowerment programmes.

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This news article is a production distributed through Caribbean News Service. It is made freely available to your media and we encourage publishing and redistribution, giving credit to Caribbean News Service (CNS).

ROSEAU, Dominica, Jul 13 2016 – The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has partnered with the Caribbean Male Action Network (CariMAN) on a pilot project which will focus on sport, music and the personal developmental needs of youth in Dominica, especially young men. CDB has provided a grant of USD49,500 to the project which launched on July 1, and will benefit seven schools. It aims to empower youth with relevant employable and coping skills, and produce youth ambassadors to act as advocates among their peers—including those exposed to violence and abuse.

The objective of the joint CDB/CariMAN project is to provide access to skills, materials, equipment and spaces needed to promote personal and artistic development; nurture talents; encourage creativity; and develop healthier relationships and lifestyles.

Research has shown that youth unemployment is one of the socio-economic factors that may push youth into crime and violence. Also, the lack of employment opportunities and exclusion lead to mounting frustration, which in turn increases the chances of youth engaging in risky sexual behaviours affecting their health.

The project is designed to develop skills for obtaining employment and to cope effectively with conflict and anger, with emphasis on gender equality, sexual diversity, masculinity and other social issues such as gender-based violence.  The sports and music training workshops, coaching sessions and social activities will involve both theoretical and practical aspects. There will also be a series of residential weekend camps targeted at senior students in secondary schools which will provide training on life skills.

The grant from CDB will be made through the Bank’s flagship poverty reduction programme, the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF). BNTF provides grants for community infrastructure and a wide gamut of skills training initiatives including artisan trades, disaster mitigation planning, family and soft skills, braille communication, and computer literacy.

CariMAN, an affiliation of a broad cross-section of individual men and organisations working with men, is represented in 12 English-speaking Caribbean countries and is involved in various projects across the Region. The use of sports as a vehicle for promoting social cohesion is one of the areas endorsed by CariMAN, in addition to entrepreneurship in arts (particularly music). CariMAN has also produced a number of tools, videos and tailored packages for engaging the youth.

Along with the students, the project will involve teachers; parents; community members; musicians; coaches; the Dominica Planned Parenthood Association; National Drug Abuse Prevention Unit; Christian Music School; the BNTF Implementing Agency in Dominica; and Ministries with the remit for Youth, Education, Social Services and Gender Affairs.

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WASHINGTON, Mar 29 2016 – Caribbean nationals are being encouraged to apply for employment under a new World Bank Group (WBG) programme that is aimed at “exceptionally talented young people with a passion for international development”.

The World Bank said that the analyst programme is a three-year programme that will allow the successful candidates to “work in an intellectually challenging and culturally diverse environment within a specific practice, region or corporate unit of the World Bank Group.

“You will have the opportunity to contribute and grow your skills in areas ranging from analytics, research, data management, project management, communications, finance, management accounting, and information technology. In addition, the programme offers various cohort activities aimed to broaden your exposure to the work of the World Bank Group and develop leadership skills.”

The bank said that on completion of the programme, there may be opportunities for the successful candidates to continue their career in the World Bank Group.

“Participants holding a Master’s degree who find the opportunity to continue their career at the WBG may also be eligible for advancement opportunities. Alternatively, you may leverage the experience you have gained to pursue further studies or other opportunities in international development.”

The WGB said that “to be competitive for this highly selective programme, you need to demonstrate a commitment to development, analytical thinking, proven academic success, and leadership potential”

It said the deadline for submitting applications is April 5.

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group of graduates holding diploma

This news article is a production distributed through Caribbean News Service. It is made freely available to your media and we encourage publishing and redistribution, giving credit to Caribbean News Service (CNS).  

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 24 2016 – The University of the West Indies (UWI) has expressed concern at the low percentage of young people in the Caribbean seeking higher education as it outlined new initiatives aimed at making the regional education institution more responsive to a changing global environment.

UWI Vice Chancellor, Sir Hilary Beckles, said greater access to higher education is important and lamented the fact that “we still don’t have enough of our citizens in higher education, professional training skills.

“We need to continue to push for more of that,” he said, noting that “we in the English-speaking Caribbean have the lowest percentage of our young people in tertiary education in this hemisphere.

“It is very disturbing to me that that’s the case,” he said, adding “and we have to do better”.

The Barbadian-born historian and academic said it is also true that the university has to be “more alert to global opportunities” and welcomed the number of projects outlined by the outgoing St. Augustine Campus principal Professor Clement Sankat for the coming months ahead.

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This news article is a production distributed through Caribbean News Service. It is made freely available to your media and we encourage publishing and redistribution, giving credit to Caribbean News Service (CNS).  

By Desmond Brown

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Mar 22 2016, CNS – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said quality teaching and quality leadership is lacking in the region’s education system and the time has come for drastic action to fix this problem, especially at the primary level.

Delivering the Antigua State College-organised 12th Dr. Alister Francis Memorial Lecture at the University of the West Indies (UWI) open campus here Monday night, Gonsalves noted that if our civilisation is to be more fortified we have to put emphasis on quality teaching and quality leadership in the schools.

“I have never been able to understand how primary school teachers can have a child for seven years…a normal child…who is not afflicted by any intrinsic learning disabilities of one kind or another…but when that child finishes seven years of primary education that, that child cannot read or write our count with a level of proficiency to allow them to pursue secondary education without remedial work,” Gonsalves said.

“Nobody has yet been able to explain that to me with any degree of honesty. I’m talking about many persons in the teaching profession.”

The Vincentian leader related a story about two schools in a farming village, just across from each other in his country, both on the same social status; pointing out that the children at one school got more than 80 percent passes while those from the other got just over 50 percent.

“Two or three of the teachers who are responsible for these classes tell me it wasn’t a good crop. So I said you are reducing students now to ground nuts and yam and tanya? Because the research shows that once you have a minimum level of adequacy in relation to basic supports – parenting, facilities in the school and the like – that the single most important determinants in respect of students’ outcomes are the issues connected to quality teaching and quality school leadership,” the Prime Minister said.

“Now many teachers don’t accept that and several of the teachers’ unions don’t accept that but if you have in a seven year period, if you are unfortunate to meet two and God forbid three poor teachers, when you reach the level to go and write your Common Entrance or to get assessed on the Caribbean Primary Exist Assessment you are two or three years behind.

“And we have to find a way, not in any divisive manner, but a conversation has to start as a matter of urgency with all the stakeholders to see those teachers who are assessed not to be quality teachers, how we can retool them. And if they are not interested in retooling and if they are failing to take appropriately the retooling, arrangements should be made to have them exit the teaching profession and do some other thing,” Gonsalves added, to loud applause from the audience which included Governor General Dr. Sir Rodney Williams, members of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Gaston Browne and Opposition Leader Baldwin Spencer.

He said he is aware that when he speaks like this that people say he is trespassing on an issue which is a political hot potato, but noted “I prefer to offend bad teachers than to damage students”.

Dr. Gonsalves also noted that where there are lots of good teachers, a minority of bad ones adversely affect the work of those who are good.

“So I’m not making an anti-teachers point. In fact the way in which I’m speaking you will see that my first love is teaching,” said Gonsalves who taught for a year at a secondary school before he went off to the UWI where he obtained a B.Sc. (Econ) and M.Sc. (Govt.) degrees.

Gonsalves also attended the University of Manchester (England) and secured his Ph.D. in Government and taught for more than six years at universities in the region and elsewhere before entering politics.

Addressing his political counterparts in the region on the issue, Gonsalves said some “are afraid to bell the cat” because they believe that some teachers who are not good teachers may want to get others to join with them to close down the schools in protest.

“I’m not making a case against teachers, let me emphasise that. I’m making a case for quality teaching and I’m not making a case to get rid of poor teachers, I’m making a case for retooling those poor teachers; but if they are not prepared to take the retooling; if they refuse to or do not measure up in the retooling it is in their interest and in the students’ interest, in the community’s interest, in the civilisation’s interest for them to go into another form of occupation,” he said.

“I make that point in relation to the primary schools (but) you can make that point in relation to the secondary schools and any other institution.”

While noting that returns on investment in education take a long time to be realised in any civilisation, Gonsalves said that An educated nation has very little poverty and its material challenges are considerably less than an uneducated or poorly educated nation.

“Education is the surest and safest way out of poverty. Education and training facilitates innovation and creativity. Education lifts the social, economic and cultural and aesthetic way of life. Education engenders peace, social order, freedom, equality, democracy and political stability,” he said.

“And education is the veritable oxygen which contains and refreshes a civilisation’s standards, values and beliefs.

“There are several matters which remain to be addressed – a series of crosscutting issues; among them the placement of critical thinking at core of the syllabus; student and other support services; ICT and education; parenting and education,” he noted

The Prime Minister also reminded the audience that a country’s poverty reduction programme goes hand in hand with its education system.