Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Over 100 new students were inducted into the Department of Youth Empowerment’s Volunteer Corps Programme during a brief launching ceremony of the 2020-2021 Volunteer Corps held at the Immaculate Conception Catholic School (ICCS) Auditorium on Thursday, December 03, 2020.
Minister of Youth, the Honourable Jonel Powell, welcomed the inductees and saluted the staff of the Department of Youth Empowerment for the initiative.
“I commend the Department of Youth for creating this Volunteer Corps and all of those opportunities that come as a result of it. I must admit that the Volunteer Corps… shows that it is not just something that you have to do as a result of getting a scholarship, but I think that is an opportunity that really puts your mind in a different frame,” said Minister Powell. “It gives you a different perspective and it is something that can encourage you to continue the work even beyond the lifespan of your scholarship and your tertiary level education.
The Volunteer Corps is an initiative by the Department of Youth Empowerment that progresses the youth mainstreaming agenda and bridges the gap between the expressed desires of youth to contribute volunteer services and their access to opportunities to do so. The programme facilitates youth access to opportunities to play an integral role in community development. The programme falls squarely under the department’s third theme: “Youth as Agents of Change – Volunteerism and Intergeneration Partnership.”
In addition to the Volunteer Corps launch, the Ministry of Education’s SAFE (Support for the Advancement of Future Education) Grants were also distributed. SAFE is awarded to citizens of St Kitts and Nevis who are enrolled at the CFBC, Nevis Sixth Form College, and AVEC. Scholarship recipients are required to perform at least four hours of volunteer service per month and maintain high academic standards.
Minister Powell who is also the Minister of Education, said that recipients of the SAFE Programme stand to benefit in various ways.
“Through the financial assistance that you get, you are able to pursue studies at the various tertiary level institutions thereby enhancing your ability to really be more employable, to go on to do further studies and to really put you in a better position to create that living – a better living for yourselves,” said the Minister. “But at the same time, through your involvement in the Volunteer Corps, you are able to give back to the community, to society, thereby building character and thereby making yourselves more rounded to really improve on the life that you seek to make for yourselves.”
He hailed the collaboration between the Ministry of Education and the Department of Youth Empowerment, noting that in the context of the launch “it creates a very good pairing.”
“The opportunity to present financial benefit through the SAFE scholarships to students pursuing tertiary level education, as well as those opportunities to be able to volunteer and to give back, I think, are two very admirable initiatives,” said the minister.
“As I understand, when this SAFE Programme was repurposed from REACH some years ago the intention was to be able to give that financial reprieve to students who sort to take advantage of tertiary level education but doing so in a fashion that would create some level of accountability from those persons who would benefit. I think that that is something that really lends towards the building of character amongst young people,” Minister Powell added.
The event was attended by Permanent Secretaries Valencia Syder – Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and Vincent Hodge – Education. Chief Education Officer, Dr. Debbie Isaac; Patricia Isles-Caesar, Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Education; Pierre Liburd, Director of Youth