Cabinet Certified Youth Development Agency

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Youth Development and National Service Minister Foster Cummings speaks during a PNM policy meeting at the Calvary Community Center in Arima on Tuesday evening. –

Minister for Youth Development and National Service, Foster Cummings, said a bill would soon be brought before parliament to establish a youth development agency in TT. He said it would be the first such agency in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Speaking at a national PNM meeting at Calvary Community Center in Arima on Tuesday, Cummings said the agency will revolutionize the approach to youth development.

“We will take note of the required and necessary programs for our young people, as we put in place the structures and facilities and a new management model for our facilities and youth development centers. Cabinet has appointed a National Service Advisory Committee, headed by Dr Ruby Alleyne, and this committee will soon submit its report to Cabinet.

Foster said work has begun at residential Presto Paesto and Chatham Youth camps in Point Fortin, and a girls’ camp will be established in El Dorado.

“Here in East Trinidad, in Wallerfied, the government will build a new youth camp for men and women. Those in the west will not be forgotten as soon a contract will be awarded for the renovation of this convention center in Chaguaramas to turn this facility into a youth camp for our young people in western Trinidad.

“To this facility will be added 50 acres of agricultural land in Chaguaramas for the agricultural component of our facility west of Trinidad. All our young people who are interested in agriculture, no matter where you are in the West, East, North, South, Central, Tobago, you will have access to agricultural training in a residential or non-residential facility residential.

He said work had started at St Michael’s Home for Boys in Diego Martin which would focus on vocational training for male wards of the state. He said work has been completed on the Josephine Shore Transition House for Young Women in Port of Spain, which would help young women transitioning out of residential life into normal life over two years.

He said girls’ and boys’ homes would be established at Couva in the Sevilla compound and Palo Seco beach camp respectively, while the boys’ halfway house at St Madeline would be upgraded and expanded. He said the government has approved the use of Palo Seco Beach Camp as a new national service complex that can accommodate more than 1,000 cadets.

Cummings said the former Mausica Teachers Training College would be upgraded so the government could double admission to the military-run University Training Program (MILAT) and the government-run Youth Apprenticeship and Retraining Program. Army (MYPART) and increase the capacity of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) program.

He said discussions had started between the Ministry of Youth Affairs and the Ministry of Housing to build a facility in Malabar for the benefit of young people from that community. Other programs he says have recently started or are continuing are the Youth Farming Program (YAHP), the Retired Teen Partnership Program, the Amplify Program for Skilled Music Producers and Arrangers, and the alternative training program for learning and improving life skills (ALLSET) to train young people in the handling of heavy equipment.

Cummings said non-residential centers would be set up across the country so young people from all walks of life could access training.

“Throughout the island of Trinidad and Tobago we will have facilities for the training of our young people, which is what the media should be in the headlines, so that our young people can see that there are opportunities and that the focus is on the entrepreneurial spirit they can pursue as they learn these skills.

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