Jamaica’s youth minister pleads to UNESCO

Former Jamaica's Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna.

Jamaica’s Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna will be the special guest at the 19th Annual Scholarship Gala of the New York based Jamaican charity Children of Jamaica Outreach (COJO) Inc. Recently returned from Paris, France after addressing UNESCO’s conference where she lobbied for youth, the former beauty queen said:

“I want to focus primarily on two of our several of priorities: youth development and culture,” Hanna said. “We are committed to investing in our young people and improving the conditions for our children including those in need of care and protection by increasing budgetary allocations and working to have more of them stay with families and loving environments where possible. Youth make up 53 percent of our population. We just completed a national survey consultation with our youth which among other things is driving our youth policy and goals for the next five years. Coming out of these consultations we have implemented greater opportunities for youth entrepreneurship especially in the face of youth unemployment and the numbers of youth at risk. Since January of this year we have trained over 8500 young people for job placement and have created a new job internship program for tertiary graduates through our National Youth Service. This training will continue as we seek to make our youth more self- reliant.”

She also made a plea for her nation’s membership on the World Heritage Committee. Leading a lobby for support of Jamaica’s candidacy for membership of the World Heritage Committee she said:

“Jamaica has applied for the Blue and John Crow Mountains to be inscribed on the World Heritage List and will begin preparing a dossier for Port Royal’s nomination to the List. Jamaica will also be putting a case for reggae music to be inscribed on the Intangible Heritage List.

“We are humbled that our culture has transcended language, color and class with the philosophies of Marcus Garvey and Bob Marley. That is why all of us can sing ‘One Love’ or be motivated to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery,” Hanna stated. “It reached into the heart of Usain Bolt who surprised some when he slapped his chest when he knew he broke the world record crossing the finish line in Beijing.”

“But this passionate confidence is not only present in Jamaicans. It can be seen in millions of youth around the globe in different countries many of whom are having their own discussions on what they see as relevant and how they expect their leaders to satisfy their needs. Today, they are the real change catalysts; they are more tolerant and less suspicious of differences. They use technology to make the world smaller and shape it in real time. I want to therefore, commend UNESCO for its recently concluded youth forum because if we miss the opportunity to make the connection with our youth we would have squandered our opportunities as leaders.”

She said her pleas also represented the interests of Small Island Developing States on the committee which decides whether a property is inscribed on the World Heritage List.

In closing she added, “I want to say resolutely that the Government of Jamaica supports UNESCO’s historical and continuing focus on social inclusion to build the social skills of our people; to build gender balance in our national development, eradicating illiteracy and poverty; and promote youth development, science and innovation, while respecting and protecting our climate and environment.”

In the past, the minister has lauded the efforts of the New York based COJO charity, and is acclaimed to be a firm believer in the power of education as a means of empowerment and advancement. The gala and awards will take place at the Hilton New York, JFK Airport on Dec. 14.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to provide scholarships and support for deserving students and Jamaican child care institutions in need.

For further information about COJO including sponsorship opportunities, visit www.cojokids.org.

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