Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, has called on unattached youth living in Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs) to register for skills-based programmes the Government is offering.
Speaking with young people during a tour of the ZOSO in Denham Town, Kingston, to “ascertain the ZOSO’s effect on children, students and youth in the area”, Mr. Reid said he wants to reach the unattached youth living in the community, especially those who need jobs and training.
“Some of the social problems that we have in our society is lack of access to education and training, and we are bringing training to them or taking them from where they are to where the training is,” Mr. Reid told JIS News in an interview.
“We are here for them. We’re going to take some training to them, and those we can take and place elsewhere, we’ll take [them],” he added.
He said the ZOSO aims to bring about transformation, especially in the lives of inner-city youth, in which the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is playing a pivotal role.
“This is the beginning of a whole transformation for our inner-city communities, and we want to replicate this right across the country. The long-term development of Jamaica has to be built on training and education, access of quality education for all and meeting the needs of the people where they are,” Mr. Reid said.
“I have a schedule to tour the ZOSO, because the strategy is [to] clear, hold and build, and part of the long-term building plan is to make sure that the education and training systems are available to the young people and, indeed, all the people of these communities,” he explained.
One of the youth from Denham Town, whom Minister Reid said he was very concerned about, is former head boy of Vauxhall High School, Travis Morrison, who lives in Denham Town and is not enrolled in a programme or employed.
“We’ve been able to meet individuals like Travis Morrison, who has over 20 subjects [including CSEC and CAPE]. I’m happy to tell him that we will try and get him into the Caribbean Maritime University based on the programme that they have,” Mr. Reid told JIS News.
For his part, Travis said he was happy to meet the Minister and share his story with him.
“I feel good and I am looking forward to the programme the Minister will enrol me in. I feel good that he came to hear our concerns and will try to help us,” Travis told JIS News.
The Minister said skills-based programmes will not be forced on unattached youth; instead, members of the Ministry, along with other Government agencies such as HEART Trust/NTA, will be listening to the needs of the youth living in ZOSO areas, and enrolling them accordingly into programmes.
“We are going to do our due diligence and surveys within the community to find out exactly what are their training needs. We’re not going to just prescribe but [also] look at their abilities, interests and take them up to the level we require, [and] we are going to make sure that the training is available,” he said.