PHILIPSBURG:--- The Department of Youth hosted a consultation session with stakeholders to discuss the Integrated Youth Policy Plan (IYP) on Friday, December 9th, 2016 at the University of Sint Maarten. The purpose of the consultation session was to discuss relevant areas concerning youth development on St. Maarten as well as strategies for effective implementation as outlined in the draft document. Welcome statements were given by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Education, Culture Youth and Sport, Ms. Jorien Wuite and the head of the Department of Youth, Mrs. Shermina Powell- Richardson. The Honorable Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Ms. Silveria Jacobs, expressed her gratitude to the Department of Youth for their dedication and to all stakeholders that made their contribution in the preparation and consultation phase. She stated in her address to look forward to the communication of the IYP to the general public and anticipates that it will be in such a way that people of St. Maarten are fully aware of the processes established to protect our youth and ensure that they can achieve their highest potential.
In recent years, the Department of Youth has placed additional emphasis on amending existing and developing new policies. A few key documents have already been drafted and will be presented in 2017 including the National Guide towards the Reporting of Child Abuse and the Early Childhood Development policy.
The current IYP stems from 2007 and is revised accordingly to fit current society as well as the needs of the present youth population (0-24 years). The IYP gives directives for new laws, policies and actions to be taken to assist in the wholesome development of the youth of St. Maarten. Furthermore, the IYP will provide an overview of how youth are developing, the opportunities and the proposed ways of meeting the challenges. The vision, strategic objective and actions will cover a time span of ten years and will be periodically revised and updated.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which St. Maarten is signatory to via the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is used as reference to ensure that all relevant areas are addressed. All basic elements such as civil rights ,freedoms, education, labor, recreation, health, welfare, family, alternative care and protection measures are included in the plan. The synchronization with the IYP also facilitates the UNCRC reporting process that is due every 4 years.
Policy makers from various ministries including the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, the Ministry of Justice were in attendance. Other stakeholders were the St. Maarten Early Childhood Development Association (SECDA), Stichting Justitiële Instellingen St. Maarten (SJIS), Sint Maarten Youth Council and the representative of the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport attended the session. The youth were also consulted in previous sessions including the last Youth Round Table conference and sensitization sessions held in all secondary schools.
The intention is to finalize the IYP and present the document to the Council of Ministers by the end of January, 2017.