Bridging the Gap
The state of education, especially the public school system, emerged as the main theme when hundreds of young people met with government ministers last Friday (5 November) evening.
Over 300 young people and leaders changed their usual Friday night youth meetings and social plans to attend.
The meeting had an open agenda and encouraged youth dialogue on issues ranging from development and the environment to teen pregnancy, crime and violence. However, most expressed frustration with secondary-level education, which has seen major changes since the school year began.
The evening's hosts were students Danielle Borden and Josh McLaughlin, while Kyle McLean served as moderator.
Youths represented local public and private schools and colleges - including Cayman Brac.
The teens were especially concerned about the new Year 12 programme, also called the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC); as well as work opportunities and succession planning for young professionals.
They also expressed concern about the availability of financial aid and scholarships - especially outside of mainstream subjects. Other concerns included inadequate staffing and insufficient time for key subjects. The recent change of canteen food was also questioned.
In response, Education Minister the Hon. Rolston Anglin made a commitment to visit secondary schools this week, along with other officials, to personally review the issues raised.
CIFEC is a major advancement in the education system and encompasses the new mandatory additional year of studies, while seeking to place students in the most beneficial programme.
The main features are preparing students to re-sit exams to achieve more passes or higher grades, and offering vocational preparation classes such as tourism and media studies as well as work experience and placement.
This was the third such national youth forum. It was hosted jointly by the Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture (with the ministry's Chief Officer and Senior Policy Advisor in the audience) and the Cayman Islands Youth Assembly.
The event was organised by the Youth Services Unit and broadcast live on Radio Cayman - with the assistance of the Youth Flex broadcast team.
Minister Mike Adams, in his capacity as Community Affairs minister, also fielded questions.
Youth Minister the Hon. Mark Scotland promised to soon embark on a series of district meetings to engage young people on a range of topics. He also shared that the country's youth policy is currently being updated by the National Youth Commission, in conjunction with his office.
Other participants included representatives of uniformed youth organizations and church groups. The former minister for youth and education, MLA Alden McLaughlin was also in the audience.
Government's Youth Services Unit welcomes young people's questions or concerns, which can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information contact: Lennon Christian