Lashley: Service not mandatory

Barbadian youth will be “encouraged”, not “required”, to be part of a new National Youth Service.

Minister of Youth Stephen Lashley today sought Parliament’s permission to make that amendment to the National Youth Policy, which was debated in the House of Assembly today.

This followed recent weeks of heated debate over the issue when it was though that Government would mandate all young people between ages 14 and 29 to be involved in the National Youth Service.

In addition to stating that young people would be encouraged to volunteer hours of community service, the minister said the youth policy would now read “young people studying abroad will also be encouraged to give voluntary service upon their return to Barbados”.

“I make that amendment to be pellucidly clear as to intention of the government that the proposed National Youth Service will be entirely voluntary and not mandatory,” he said.

Although Speaker of the House Michael Carrington told the minister there was “really no need for a formal amendment at that stage”, the Christ Church West Central MP said:

“I am guided by you Mr. Speaker (but) I felt I should just make mention of that correction in the National Youth Policy of Barbados.”

Lashley said the concept of such a service had also been proposed by the Barbados Labour Party when it was the government in 1999.

“I know that the Barbados Labour Party would say that it is nothing new, they promised it in 1999, they said that this national youth service as proposed by them would promote and encourage the performance of community service through a national service programme in which young people not in school, college or a job will become involved in community service through activities sponsored by clubs, schools, youth groups, church groups and all other civic organisations,” the minister stated. (SC)

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