19.10.2011 - Youth Drive Change - UNESCO Youth Forum 2011

Despite the challenges facing an average Jamaican youth and youth all over the world, Paul says Change is possible. But youth must not wait for it…

Paul McFarlane, Jamaican youth delegate © UNESCO / Doudou-Bienvenu Kajangu

Paul McFarlane is the Jamaican youth delegate at this Year’s UNESCO Youth Forum. “I’m a full time medical student and part time marketing manager of an NGO called Junior Achievement.” He says, while introducing himself.

Paul expects the 7th UNESCO Youth Forum to be very phenomenon. “When I spoke with the Jamaican youth delegate of the 6th Youth Forum, she explained to me how much she was able to incorporate what she learnt into her work in youth development. And being in dialogue with other youth delegates in the online youth forum UNESCO set up before the main forum, it was helpful in getting me energized to participate in the discussion.” He says.
Adding that the key issues being discussed- youth in political and public life; countering youth exclusion, vulnerability and violence; and breaking through employment barriers- are relevant to realities in Jamaica. “It is very important we as Jamaicans explore additional ways that we can use to solve problems that exist in our country.”

Like some of the delegates, if not all, Paul is very optimistic that his expectations will be met during the forum. “I hope to take back a lot to my country and contribute a lot to the forum.” He says.

“I’m interested in youth being involved in political life- people say youths are the future but I believe youth are part of population now. It is important for them to be active in political life now and get involved in decisions that affect the lives of everybody.”

Paul says that young people cannot drive change if they are relegated to the background and not included in decision-making process. “They should be part of the process because decisions that are made for 50 years old affect 15 years old. Therefore youth should be involved with the process.” He says.
According to him, in Jamaica young people are active to some extent. But they are limited to being members on committees and boards but not from the perspective of actively being involved in the legislative process. There is a need for more work to be done. “There is much more to be done in terms of developing legislative framework for youth development.”

Despite the challenges facing an average Jamaican youth and youth all over the world, Paul says change is possible. But youth must not wait for it; they have to be actively involved in the process. In his words, “Don’t wait for things to be done for you. Do it yourself. If you wait for things to be done for you by people we regard as the “authorities” it is either not going to be done in the time it should be done or in the way that is best suiting for youth development and wider development of country at large. Don’t wait for government, teachers or banks to grant you loan to start your business, you have to start creating that force of change yourself by using creative means, by being innovative and by taking charge.”

by Jennifer Ehidiamen

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This article was written by one of the Youth Bloggers of the 7th UNESCO Youth Forum. The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of UNESCO.




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