Youth’s perspective on constitutional reform in T&T

Written by

Shane John

Published on

All ArticlesYouth Development

Effective youth development is centred around holistic partnerships that ensure youth voices are heard. That’s why the Trinidad Youth Council (TYC) has been working with various organisations to impact the framework of youth development in Trinidad and Tobago.
The youth population is not just the future but also the driving force behind the nation’s current growth and prosperity. By engaging young individuals in discussions that impact our national development, Trinidad and Tobago can harness the power of its youth to create a more inclusive, democratic, and sustainable society.

Thanks to the partnership between the Trinidad Youth Council and the Human Resource Management Association of Trinidad and Tobago (HRMATT), we have made significant progress in enhancing the employability of young people. These partnerships have provided them with opportunities to leverage their skills, qualifications, and talents to achieve success.
The council is now on another journey, this time in collaboration with the National Advisory Committee on Constitutional Reform.

 Unique opportunity for youth

The Constitution underwent its last full amendment in 1976, marking the transition of Trinidad and Tobago into a republican society. Given the evolution of societal norms and values, it is now essential that we re-evaluate where we are as the active change influencers and nation developers, and our participation is critical in steering the nation towards progress and development.  
This, therefore, has become increasingly significant in the Year of our Lord, 2024, a defining juncture in our nation’s history, as we set out a destination in this journey to achieve a progressive reform of our Constitution.
The council, in collaboration with the National Advisory Committee on Constitutional Reform, presents a unique opportunity for young leaders, advocates, and change-makers to contribute their perspectives and ideas towards shaping the future of this twin island nation.

The second of two engagements will be executed on Saturday, May 11, in Port-of-Spain. It is set to be an interactive session aimed at empowering the youth to voice their opinions on constitutional reform. This is focused under Sustainable Development Goal 17, which is a pivotal aspect of governance that directly impacts every citizen and involves positive partnerships for the future.  
The Constitution, as the foundational legal document of our country, outlines for us our governance structure, rights, and responsibilities of the citizens and institutions. In our twin island, we are blessed with talented young people who have great ideas and suggestions that can be developed into strong policy and position papers of development. In this instance, it calls on our youth to reflect on the core values and aspirations of our nation, which is essential for fostering unity and social cohesion for the future.

Making youth voices heard

By involving youth in discussions related to constitutional reform, the nation not only ensures that our voices are heard but also instils a sense of ownership and responsibility toward shaping our country’s future, one that we will inherit when we are tomorrow’s leaders.  
Youth participation in governance and decision-making processes is key to fostering a culture of democracy and accountability. On this occasion, we call on young people to identify the issues related to the Constitution and what we would like to see improved within our society. On this occasion, young individuals not only have an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the principles of democracy but also learn to exercise their rights and responsibilities to express themselves.

I strongly believe that this inclusive involvement paves the way for a more transparent and inclusive political system, where our concerns and the perspectives of all segments of society are taken into consideration and recommended to the parliament for implementation.  
Moreover, like the council’s project in 2023, which focused on youth employment—where we successfully partnered with HRMATT to assist young people with resume improvement, interview advice, and general ways to improve our ability to gain employment—youth employment and the Constitution is a big conversation. When examining if youth participation in matters of governance contributes significantly to human capital development—a critical component for the sustainable growth and development in our country focuses on our Public Sector Programme that is governed through the Public Service Commission. Young people should have their voices heard because the current layout of the commission and recruitment has become outdated and stagnant to our country’s development.

Empowering youth

Human capital, defined as the collective skills, knowledge, and abilities of a population, is a driving force behind economic prosperity and social progress. By empowering the youth, we can suggest that the public service can now be charged with the responsibility to identify the workers that we would require in years to come and connect our workforce with our university’s choices in recruitment to the requirements of our county.

Furthermore, I strongly believe that this youth engagement in issues of governance and constitutional reform is a step in the right direction in fostering a sense of civic responsibility and national pride among young individuals. It would also encourage an increase the voting participation on the island by youth. Being involved in this, the legal and political framework of our country, will not only ensure a more representative and responsive governance structure but also nurture our generation to become informed and engaged citizens, committed to contributing positively to society.

In conclusion, the Constitution and youth participation are intrinsically linked to the development and progress of Trinidad and Tobago. By empowering young leaders, advocates, and change-makers to lend their voices to discussions on constitutional reform, the nation sets a strong foundation for inclusive governance, social cohesion, and human capital development. This is an opportunity on May 11, for young people to present and share ideas while collectively working towards advancing our democratic ideals and cultural heritage. It is time for a change, and together, we, the young people of Trinidad and Tobago, can shape a brighter future for the nation and its people.

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