Youth Development and National Service Minister Foster Cummings said legislation will shortly go to Parliament for the establishment of a youth development agency in TT. He said it will be the first such agency in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Speaking at a national PNM meeting at the Calvary Community Centre in Arima on Tuesday, Cummings said the agency would revolutionise the approach to youth development.
“We will take careful note of the programmes that are required and necessary for our young people, as we put in place the structures and facilities and a new management model of our youth development facilities and centres. Cabinet has appointed a national service advisory committee, headed by Dr Ruby Alleyne, and that committee will soon submit its report to the Cabinet.”
Foster said work had started on the residential Presto Paesto and Chatham Youth camps in Point Fortin, and a camp for girls would be established in El Dorado.
“Here in East Trinidad in Wallerfied the government will construct a new youth camp for both male and female. Those in the West will not be forgotten as, soon, a contract will be awarded for the refurbishment of that Chaguaramas Convention Centre to repurpose that facility as a youth camp for our young people in West Trinidad.
"Added to that facility will be 50 acres of agricultural land in Chaguaramas for the agricultural component of our facility in west 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.”
He said work has started on St Michael's Home for Boys in Diego Martin, which would be focused on vocational training for male wards of the state. He said work has been completed on the Josephine Shore transition home for young women in Port of Spain, which would assist young women coming out of residential living to transition to normal living over two years.
He said homes for girls and boys would be established in Couva at the Sevilla compound and at the beach camp facility in Palo Seco respectively, while the transition home for boys at St Madeline would be upgraded and expanded. He said the government had approved the use of the beach camp facility in Palo Seco as a new national service complex that will accommodate over 1,000 cadets.
Cummings said the old Mausica Teachers Training College would be upgraded so that the government could double the intake of the military-led academic training programme (MILAT) and military-led youth programme of apprenticeship and reorientation training (MYPART) programmes and increase the capacity for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) programme.
He said discussions have started between the Ministry of Youth and the Ministry of Housing to construct a facility in Malabar for the benefit of young people in that community. Other programmes which he said recently began or were continuing were the youth agricultural homestead programme (YAHP), the retiree adolescent partnership programme, the Amplify programme for skilled music producers and arrangers, and the Alternative Learning & Life Skills Enhancement Training (ALLSET) programme to train young people in the operation of heavy equipment.
Cummings said non-residential centres would be established across the country so that young people in all areas could access training.
“Throughout the island of Trinidad and Tobago we will have facilities available for the training of our young people, which is what the media should be carrying on the front page, so our young people can see that there are opportunities and that there is an emphasis on entrepreneurship that they can pursue as they acquire those skills.”