October 27,2016 Source
Over the next four years, it is expected that 4,400 school dropouts, between the ages of 16 and 25, will be trained and eased into the working world under Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CCSP).
Mark Ross, Community Action Specialist, who is in charge of the Ministry of Public Security’s implementation of the Inter-American Development Bank-funded programme, told Stabroek News that the initiative will give the youths, who dropped out of primary or secondary school and are unemployed, an opportunity to go back to a technical institute and pursue a skill of their choice.
The initiative, which is budgeted at US$3M, is the first component of the CCSP and is designed to address crime and violence at the community level by reducing the contributing factors while at the same time strengthening the protective factors.
At a sensitisation activity, Ross last Thursday addressed several members of the Sophia community, who were very welcoming of the programme.
Ross said he is very passionate about addressing the high unemployment rate and low education level that have been found among young people. “If you are to do a working population demographic, the reality is that you have older people above 30 working more than people from 18 to 25. So, what we are doing under this programme is the Youth Employment and Empowerment section,” Ross said.
The programme is set to run in the 20 following communities: Vreed-en-Hoop, Providence, McDoom, Charlestown and Albouystown, South Ruimveldt Gardens and Park, East and West La Penitence, Sophia, Alberttown, Kingston, Annandale, Buxton, Enmore, Rosignol, Angoy’s Avenue, Adelphi, Port Mourant, Albion, Friendship, Bush Lot and Wismar.
He explained that from November 1, each community will have to mobilise 55 youths every year for the next four years. “Essentially, we are going to be training 1,100 youngsters from those communities and we will not just be sending them back to school and a technical institute but will also be guiding them and have psychosocial counselling,” Ross pointed out. He stated that the youths will not just learn a skill, they will learn an employable skill of their choice based on a Rapid Labour Market Assessment that was conducted in 2015.
Ross explained that the technical institutes around the country are being engaged and will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) soon to start the implementation of the programme. Each of the 4,400 youths is also expected to be provided with a stipend of US$70 a month to cover transportation costs and other incidentals. However, Ross explained that the figure is still being discussed since they want to provide a level playing field for all of the youths from different geographic locations. “We are looking at the anomalies and will be addressing them,” he said.
In order to ensure that the youths “stay focused on the path,” Ross explained that they will be hiring mentors to “hold the hands of them to walk them through the course.” “They are at-risk youths and can slip out and get involved in some gang and could easily fall out at any time,” he said.
Ross also said the youths will also undergo job readiness and workplace behaviour training to ensure that they are well prepared for the world of work.
Out of the total number of youths, Ross pointed out that 300 of them will be given the opportunity to develop their entrepreneurial skills and will be provided with US$1,500 to establish their own businesses.
Another part of the CCSP is conflict resolution and increasing the involvement of the community and youth policing groups. “We have cases where people see kids out of schools and don’t get involved. When you pass or ignore a child not going to school, they can become criminals and live in your community and eventually turn around and rob you,” Ross said, while stating that they are tackling that particular issue because they have recognised the importance of community policing.
“Anybody following the US presidential debates will see that both candidates have talked a lot about it and the US has become very conscious that community policing helps in crime and violence prevention and so you have to build that relationship between the police and community,” he said, while pointing out that communities that have active policing groups show less criminal activities than those without.
Another area that will be addressed with the programme is the prevalence of attitudes and behaviours among the population that promotes the use of violence. “We also found in a survey in 2011 that 42% of our population (men and women) believe men have the right to slap a woman. They just believe that and so that’s also a worry,” he said. To address the issue, he said, they are going to be training the community members in conflict resolution.
The implementation of the programme is expected to start around the end of the year.