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Volunteerism still alive in Caribbean

Retired professionals are demonstrating their commitment to serve Caribbean youth by preparing them for leadership roles and ethics in public office.A group of Councillors, retired educators and policemen from Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, Guyana and The Bahamas teamed up for a week of training in Local Government, Communications and Multi-culturalism. Their training was part of a project entitled “Fostering a Democratic Culture in Schools and Local Communities” which was sponsored by the Commonwealth Foundation, through the Caribbean Association of Local Government Authorities – CALGA.

The Commonwealth Foundation and CALGA are investing in Caribbean youths in an effort to improve public awareness about the Local Government system, starting in secondary schools. This initiative also aims at immersing youth in local culture and promoting respect for cultural diversity in plural Caribbean societies.

 

The young people of the Region will also be provided with public speaking, debating and leadership skills. It is hoped that these students will move on to serve in community groups where they live. The programme is being piloted in the Chaguanas Borough against a background of a general lack of understanding of Local Government roles and responsibilities. There is a similar problem in other Commonwealth Caribbean countries where there are reports of low voter turn-out at Local Government elections. It was observed that apart from the elections, there are limited opportunities for citizen participation in governance, contributing to Caribbean youth becoming cynical about politics.

The Commonwealth-sponsored project intends to build on institutional arrangements in the education and local government sectors to nurture democratic principles, participation and accountability among youths. It is hoped that the young people will take these values into their impending adulthood and into their towns and villages. It is also expected that many of them will develop a passion for public duty and service.

The training of the group of Caribbean professionals was conducted by lecturers including Josh Drayton from the University of the West Indies, renown journalist – Tony Fraser, and cultural activist – Rubadiri Victor. They have also developed a manual to assist the trainers in the Caribbean impart knowledge about Local Governance and gender sensitivity and skills in Communications, including alternative media. The manual also provides guidelines for featuring cultural expositions, preserving cultural heritage and honouring the legacy of community heroes.

Issued by Councillor Momeena Hosein
Councillor for Montrose, Borough of Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago

Professionals from Bahamas, Guyana, St. Lucia and T&T participate in training on Local Governance, Communications and Culture

Josh Drayton form Political Science, UWI, trains trainers from Bahamas, Guyana, St. Lucia and T&T on Local Governance, Public Ethics and Accountability