BEGINNING from August 10 to 18, 72 young persons will be given the opportunity to debate on topical matters and share their views on issues concerning youth when the fourth annual Youth Parliament gets underway.
Speaking at the launch of the 2018 Youth Parliament in the second committee room of the Parliament Buildings, Parliamentary Executive Assistant Carlleta Charles said this year the pool of participants has increased tremendously, owing to the inclusion of students from the University of Guyana (UG) for the first time.
There will be 35 participants from UG in addition to the 37 participants from secondary schools and the New Opportunity Corps, which totals 72 youth parliamentarians.
“As a result of our widened participation, instead of our customary one sitting, we will be having two sitting of the fourth annual Youth Parliament,” Charles told members of the media.
She detailed that the secondary school students will lead the first sitting on Wednesday, August 15 while the second sitting, the following day, will be led by the UG students.
“With regards to our programme, there will be sessions on the function of Parliament, leadership, parliamentary etiquette and decorum, parliamentary procedures and practices,” Charles said.
The youth will also be introduced to the concept of ‘motions’ in the parliamentary setting and will be taught the art of public speaking.
And emulating the Parliament setting, students will be given a chance to debate motions. The motions to be debated on the first day are centered upon efforts to combat climate change, non-communicable diseases, restructuring the education sector and youth representation in governance. While on the second day, university students will debate climate change, media and the press, alternative sentencing in keeping with the Narcotics, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (control) act and oil and gas.
Charles also remarked that notwithstanding the parliamentarians and professionals that will be training the 72 young people, previous young parliamentarians have been tapped to render their services.
“They [previous young parliamentarians] have continued to be resources that we can use, that we can count on,” acting Clerk of Committees Dillion Paul affirmed.
Paul added: “We have a very active database and from time to time, if when we need any assistance in any area we can call upon our former youth parliamentarians to give us some assistance.”
Former youth Parliamentarian Travis Bruce is one such person that will be returning to engage with the young people. Bruce himself shared that the experience was a rewarding one where he moved from being in “shallow waters” to being a voice to champion causes he is passionate about. He has further excelled to being the founder of a youth group focused on promoting the United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The objectives of the event are to educate and engage youth on the functions of the National Assembly; to discuss and generate ideas on current legislation and policies and their implementation for youths and to promote national unity.
“The students are usually very enthusiastic and as such the Parliamentary Office doesn’t have to play a major role in keeping them engaged,” Charles said, adding: “They create their own project proposals that they want to do and they come to us.”
In fact, according to Charles, one of the rural regions has created their own Youth Parliament which stemmed from the 2015 Youth Parliament.
She said the national Parliament does not fund these spinoff programmes but they are molded through the Youth Parliament and given moral support.
“Each year we would probably have nine to 10 persons who would go off to create their own programmes,” Charles posited.