Youth Jamaica – The National Centre for Youth Development

In the vibrant tapestry of Jamaica’s Ministry of Education and Youth, the Youth and Adolescent Policy Division (YAPD) stands as a beacon for positive change and development.

Operating with a vision to lead, support, and facilitate mechanisms for the optimum development of young people, the YAPD plays a pivotal role in shaping policies and programs that empower Jamaican youth aged 15-29.

YAPD Mission and Vision

Vision Statement: “A Dynamic Department operating under the Ministry with responsibility for Youth Affairs; leading, supporting and facilitating mechanisms that ensure the optimum development of all young people, enabling them to compete globally and regionally, while contributing to national development.”

Mission: “To enable positive youth development through policy initiatives, programming actions, and youth participation; partnering with stakeholders to ensure inclusiveness and collaboration of efforts to address all aspects of youth development.”

YAPD Policies and Programs

Youth Innovation Centre

YAPD operates eleven Youth Innovation Centres (YICs) island-wide, serving as innovative hubs for harnessing the talents and creative potential of Jamaican youth. These centers employ positive youth development approaches, offering free programs and services to empower the youth, including:

  • Internet and modern technology access
  • Job search and resume writing assistance
  • Career counseling
  • Entrepreneurship training
  • School and homework support
  • Performing arts and sports programs
  • Sexual and reproductive health counseling

National Youth Policy (2017)

The National Youth Policy focuses on six main tenets and priority areas for youth development:

  1. Education & Training
  2. Health & Wellbeing
  3. Youth Employment & Entrepreneurship
  4. Youth Participation
  5. Social Inclusion & Re-integration
  6. Institutional & Youth Sector Arrangements

Implementation of the policy is carried out through core program components, including Youth Innovation Centres, Student Governance Programme, Community Youth Participation, Youth Leadership, and Commemorative Youth Activities.

National Secondary Students’ Council (NSSC)

Established in 1975, the NSSC plays a crucial role in effective student representation. The Education Act of 1980 mandates the existence of students’ councils in every public education institution. The NSSC, representing 165 secondary schools and over 300,000 secondary students, emphasizes the philosophy that “responsible students make the difference.”

Jamaica Union of Tertiary Students (JUTS)

Since 1972, JUTS has been the voice of approximately 25,000 students from 22 tertiary institutions. As a member of the International Union of Students (IUS), JUTS focuses on building a nation through student representation, aiming to promote and maintain the educational, social, cultural, and general interests of tertiary students.

Jamaica Youth Ambassadors Programme (JaYAP)

Established in 2000, JaYAP promotes youth advocacy and facilitates youth participation in decision-making processes. Youth Ambassadors (YAs) advocate for and educate young people on issues defined through consultations at the regional and international levels.

National Youth Council of Jamaica

The umbrella organization for youth clubs across Jamaica, the National Youth Council fosters youth participation at the community level and advocates for youth involvement in all levels of governance. Membership is open to non-partisan youth organizations with a focus on promoting youth interest and development.

Youth Advisory Council of Jamaica (YACJ)

Structured to facilitate continuous engagement of young people in youth development policy, YACJ aims to mainstream youth issues into national policies. It provides support to the Government of Jamaica in integrating youth views, priorities, and collaborations into projects and programs addressing youth needs.

National Youth Parliament of Jamaica (NYPJ)

Established in 2003, NYPJ provides a forum for Jamaican youth to express their views, network, and debate issues in the House of Representatives. The structure encourages active citizenship, youth involvement in democracy and governance, and feedback from a youth perspective on legislative matters.

Prime Minister’s National Youth Awards for Excellence

Introduced in 1998, these awards recognize youth aged 15-24 who have excelled and contributed to national development in various fields, including sports, youth in service, arts and culture, academics, agriculture, leadership, journalism, and entrepreneurship. The awards aim to promote attitudinal change and social renewal.