Legislator wants poor, rural youth to get IT lessons

GOVERNMENT Senator Natalie Campbell Rodrigues says the HEART/NSTA Trust should stop emphasising certain training courses in poor and rural communities, and that instead young people in these areas should be introduced to information technology.

Campbell Rodriques says courses such as hairdressing, dressmaking, bartending and masonry should not be offered as the primary areas of training by the national training agencies, in these communities. “We have to help our young people to dream big and to know they can achieve and be so much more. Let robotics and coding be in small communities. Let us not limit our young people because of where in Jamaica they’re from,” she said.

The senator made the recommendations during her presentation in the state of the nation debate in the Senate on Friday.

Also, she has recommended a national mentorship programme, especially for males. “We have a problem with absenteeism. Many of our boys grew up without their fathers, or with fathers who are not fit to show as model father behaviour due to their own delinquency. We see the fallout in the statistics and need to act urgently to prevent the situation from worsening,” she urged, explaining that the programme would allow participants to be assigned mentors throughout their compulsory sixth-form years, which mentors they may choose by a certain time or have assigned from a national registry that includes persons who have been vetted and trained in how to mentor the youth.

“Mentors will not only help mentees along a path to success but also help [them] in identifying potential problems and finding solutions,” she said. “If we get youth development issues sorted, it will help to significantly lessen the levels of violence and disorder occurring each day. In the midst of promoting economic self-reliance and a sense of self-pride, we must offer opportunities to our young people to allow them to feel they belong to the central and wider parts of society”. Additionally, Campbell-Rodrigues said the National Youth Service should offer training in cyber security, artificial intelligence, military and policing, entertainment management, sports health and sports recruitment, and plumbing and electrical works.

The annual state of the nation debate allows all senators to participate and Cabinet ministers who sit in the Senate the opportunity to highlight areas within their portfolios, similar to what iis done by Members of Parliament in the sectoral debate, in the Lower House.

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