The Youth Listening Tour organized by the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Library Services in partnership with local youth serving institutions, clubs, churches and schools hosted youth forums throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands during the months of November and December 2017.
This season of the listening tour kicked off in November with high energy in Grand Turk at the H J Robinson High School Auditorium. The auditorium was filled with the excitement of youths who wanted their voices to be heard and issues to be documented. The tour continued to other high schools throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands covering over 7 secondary schools and approximately 2,500 high school youths.
Youths were asked about the challenges they faced and solutions they envisioned from their communities, families and schools. It is critical for policymakers to listen to what students have to say about their own education. Youths are experts on their educational experiences and have plenty to contribute to the policy discussion. Acting Director of Youth, Mr. Nixon Dickenson stated; “The excitement of the youths intensified as the tour continued.”
The panel for the events consisted of personnel from the Ministry of Education which included the Minister of Education, Hon. Karen Malcolm; the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Mr. Amin McCartney and the Acting Director of Youth, Mr. Nixon Dickenson.
The purpose of the listening tour was to meet and listen to the young people of the Turks and Caicos Islands and seek feedback on the most important issues to better assist the Department of Youth Affairs in the development and implementation of programs and youth policies. The goal of the listening tour was to meet with the entire student body for at least an hour.
“My government has been encouraged and inspired by the focused conversations with the young people. I never cease to be amazed by young people's courage, wisdom and their willingness to work to make Turks and Caicos Islands, an even better place where all children can grow and flourish without prejudice. The youths who attended the meetings shared stories about their life experiences and the things they wanted to see changed. Everywhere we went young people spoke with openness and courage. I applaud their frankness and will continue to fight for their rights and cause. The meetings were powerful and I want every young person who participated to know that my team and I listened carefully to what was said,” stated the Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Library Services.
The youths throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands raised varying issues across the tour stops. During each discussion they continually emphasized the importance of education to their futures. They recognized that a quality education is the key to a successful life, and that teachers, parents, and community members all play vital and supportive roles in making their journeys, successful ones. The youths courageously offered their honest feelings and experiences, and expressed themselves without fear. In gratitude, the Department of Youth Affairs will attempt to communicate that, at the very least, in policies and programs; We hear you!
Overall the tour was a success and the Ministry of Education and Department of Youth Affairs will continue to promote student achievement and accomplishments through programs and activities which focus on:
- leadership development and mentorship;
- improving the quality of life for children and youth in the Turks and Caicos Islands;
- sports and recreation, and
- culture and the arts.
Some of the programs offered by the Youth Department are:
- National Youth Council
- Youth Parliament
- Junior Achievement Program
- The Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards Program
- Big Brother Big Sister Mentors Program, and
- Camp Hype.
Programs offered by the Youth Department were developed to nurture a positive self-image for the children and youth of the Turks and Caicos Islands.