Youth premier and Canaan/Bon Accord youth electoral representative Jasher De Gannes has expressed concern over the effects of the "youth pandemic" caused by covid19.
At the Assembly Legislature, Scarborough on Thursday, De Gannes lamented the blow to young people's education and called for reform in the school system.
De Gannes gave her contribution at the Tobago Youth Assembly's inaugural sitting during a debate on a motion which centred on building sustainable development through educational reform and young entrepreneurship.
De Gannes said the delivery of education was one of the biggest changes that occurred during the pandemic.
“It became a necessity especially in this covid19 season that we are presently living in," she said.
She noted the United Nations sustainable development goal four calls for inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.
De Gannes said many communities in Tobago have not met the UN standard.
"When I look at this sustainable development goal and I look at my community of Canaan/ Bon-Accord, my heart bleeds. It pains because education is not accessible, equitable and relevant to all the persons in my community.”
She said some children did not have digital devices and those who were fortunate to have, may not have had stable internet connectivity.
“In a sense, if it wasn’t one thing for those students, it was another and they were just trying to adapt to the new normal and get their education in a covid19 season – and I am just in Tobago West, but I know that there is a similar situation in Tobago East.”
She said the member for Roxborough/ Delaford had to purchase a device for one of the students in her constituency just to ensure that she could have a quality education.
De Gannes said the pandemic has shown Tobagonians they need to work together.
“Although covid19 is something negative, let us look at it positively in the sense that it perhaps can pushing us in the right direction towards educational reform. We should not be dancing the Tobago jig on this issue – taking one step forward, two steps backwards, we should be dancing the congo line instead; where we hold on to each other, we work together, and we move together in the correct direction towards educational reform in Tobago.”
She said the youth pandemic has also affected employment,
“Unemployment seems to be plaguing the youths of the day. I am constantly hearing youths crying out saying that they cannot get any jobs – imagine this, these youths have degrees, they have met the qualifications for the jobs, they have years of experience, but they can’t get no work.”
In his preamble, assembly youth speaker Delano Joefield said the Tobago Youth Assembly is a collaborative initiative between the THA Division of Sport and Youth Affairs and the Assembly Legislature in partnership with the Tobago Youth Council.
He said it is a voluntary programme that reflects the composition of the Tobago House of Assembly.
“However, it should be noted that the Tobago Youth Assembly does not consist of a minority nor majority side and is a political non-partisan programme,” Joefield said.
The Tobago Youth Assembly includes a youth speaker, 12 elected youth assemblymen, four appointed youth councillors and a youth secretariat.
“Youth citizens of Trinidad and Tobago between the ages of 15 to 24 years, residing in Tobago, are eligible to participate in this programme. The Tobago Youth Assembly aims to give young persons a voice on issues while allowing them to contribute to the overall growth and development thus fostering a sense of civic responsibility among the island’s youth. The participants will be able to table motions and discuss policies.”
He said the Tobago Youth Assembly, with a term of office of one year, creates yet another opportunity for young people to make a difference on the island and contribute towards the creation of a better Tobago for all.
The motion was eventually passed, and the sitting was adjourned for a date to be fixed.
Notably present at the sitting was THA Secretary of Sports and Youth Affairs Tracy Davidson-Celestine.