The Youth Division’s role and function is to facilitate, create, implement and enhance youth programmes, services and projects throughout The Bahamas. As such, the Division seeks to provide the required resources in collaboration with other agencies. The Division’s aim is to facilitate the acquisition of skills and orientation that will assist young people in making desirable choices for self-development and full participation at all levels in society. The Division is headed by Mr. K. Darron Turnquest.
The Division is further structured so as to implement and monitor the Commonwealth Plan of Action for youth empowerment that covers thirteen action plans. (While the Plan of Action involves other agencies, the Division of Youth is the leading agency for youth development in the country.) The following are the thirteen action plans:
- Develop and implement measures to promote the economic enfranchisement of young people;
- Strengthen social support systems and collaboration between key stakeholders in youth development;
- Strengthen Ministries, Departments and legal frameworks for departments of youth;
- Promote the participation of young people in decision making;
- Promote positive role models and foster young people’s self-esteem;
- Tale action for equality between young men and women and for youth in special circumstances;
- Promote peaceful and democratic environments in which human rights flourish;
- Provide quality education for all;
- Improve access to information and communication technology;
- Promote health, development and values through sports and culture;
- Engage young people to protect the environment;
- Professionalise the youth work sector;
- Monitor and evaluate progress in youth development.
Youth Participation and Recognition
Youth participation and recognition is encouraged through the following programmes:
- Youth Parliament
- Youth Organisation Strengthening
- Youth Band Development
- Youth Ambassadorships
- Youth Leaders Certification
- Youth Organisation Handbook
- Committees in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture
- National Youth Month
- National Summer Youth Programme
Held annually in observance of National Youth Month, the purpose of Youth Parliament is to expose Bahamian youth to parliamentary procedures, as well as current issues affecting youth development. Selected young people, 16 – 25 years, are trained in government and developmental issues; they then make presentations in the House of Assembly during two (2) sessions. Youth Parliament affords young people the opportunity to voice their concerns, offer solutions, raise a level of consciousness in our society and bring to the fore the positive contributions made by youth to the economic, social and cultural development of the nation.
Youth Organisation Strengthening Unit
This unit in the Youth Division forges a collaborative relationship between the Ministry and the over 300 youth organisations registered. This relationship helps to concretise the alliance with youth leaders, as well as assist in the coordinated growth and development of youth organisations.
Specific activities of the unit include:
- the ongoing maintenance of an active database of youth organisations;
- consultative services to facilitate the requests of youth organisations and ensure quality of services offered to young residents;
- the co-ordination of youth involvement in national events;
- promoting the full involvement in national events and expansion of youth organisations across The Bahamas.
Youth Organisations benefit from:
- Technical assistance
- Financial assistance
- Youth leaders training and certification
- Administrative support
- Referral services
- International networking
- Assistance in identifying international grants and opportunities
- Assistance in expansion into Family Island communities
Youth Band Development
The growth and development of youth bands form an integral part of the Ministry’s strategic plan for overall youth development. Youth bands provide healthy alternatives for young residents at the community level. It is an avenue for discipline and training, development of artistic ability, enhancement of “personhood” through the acquisition of pride and self-fulfillment, enhancement of self worth, cultural awareness and positive socialisation.
Youth Ambassadorship Programmes
There are two (2) Youth Ambassadorship Programmes that facilitate the involvement of Bahamian youth.
- The Commonwealth Youth Ambassadors Programme (CYAP) - CYAP is a 1993 initiative of the Heads of Governments of the Commonwealth that aims to develop a cadre of dynamic young Caribbean leaders equipped to educate their peers about regional integration.
- CARICOM Youth Ambassador - Each CARICOM member state is eligible to nominate two young adults, 18 – 25 years, one male and one female to act as the country’s CARICOM Youth Ambassador, for a term of two (2) years. These individuals perform an advocacy and peer education role and generally serve as “watchdogs” for community decisions that impact young people. As CARICOM Youth Ambassadors, these young persons are required to facilitate discussions, both nationally and internationally, around issues that impact young people.
Youth Leaders Certification
The Youth Leaders Certification Programme seeks to train youth leaders in effective techniques and methods of youth work. Additionally, it assists in the formulation of basic concepts regarding the role of youth organisations in the country.
Youth Organisation Handbook
The Youth Division provides a listing of existing bands, youth organisations and youth departments within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, registered with the Ministry. The handbook is available to the public. Please see the link below:
National Youth Advisory Council
The National Youth Advisory Council was established, by Cabinet, in January 1979. This group of appointed youth and youth leaders was created to advise the Minister responsible for Youth, on matters related to youth development. Additionally, its aim is to encourage the growth of a strong, viable and responsible youth leadership and serve as a forum for dialogue between The Government and the nation’s youth. Meetings are held once per month. The Chairman liaises with the Director of Youth and all minutes are, in turn, forwarded to the Minister.
National Youth Month
National Youth Month is held each October in collaboration with youth leaders and organisations, and acknowledges the positive contributions that youth, youth leaders and youth organisations make to national development. Each island is responsible for organising its own activities during the month. Activities include, but are not limited to a church services, marches and rallies, recognition ceremonies and Youth Parliament.
National Summer Youth Programme
During the school Summer break, the Youth Division, in collaboration with the Department of Sports and the Cultural Affairs Division of the Ministry, hosts a 4 weeks, “fun-filled” Summer Programme. Young persons, between the ages of 5 – 15 years, are engaged in organised, “character-building” enrichment programmes, based in schools and churches throughout the country.
Youth Enterprise Development
The Government of The Bahamas believes in investing in young people and improving the quality of life through the combined efforts of hard work and dedication, a solid vision and a “helping hand”.
The Youth Department works in conjunction with youth organisations and other non-government organisations in the Youth Enterprise Development Programmes. The Programmes seek to equip young adults with opportunities to create their own sustainable livelihoods, thus forming an integral part of the government strategy to meet the first goal of the Commonwealth's Action Plan, which is to “Develop and implement measures to promote economic enfranchisement of young people.” The associated programmes achieve this by, in part, providing training, job readiness skills, apprenticeship and job placement. Individual programmes include the following:
- The Fresh Start Programmes
- The National Self-Starters Programmes
- The Junior Achievement Programmes
- The Recent Introduction Of The National G.O.L.D. Initiative
- Private Sector Partnership Programme
The Fresh Start Programme is a youth employment skills training programme that provides job search skills and training to youth, between 16 – 25 years. Once enrolled in this programme, participants are exposed to relevant workplace experiences and instructions through a structured training and placement curriculum. The programme covers a variety of personal development and job search topics, geared to afford the young prospective professionals with the resources, information and tools needed for successful employment and job retention.
The Self-Starter Programme is a government funded, grant-based programme designed to empower young Bahamian citizens, 18 – 30 years, seeking to establish and expand small businesses. It provides aspiring entrepreneurs that possess viable, small business ideas, with funding, from BS$1,000 to BS$5,000, to acquire tools and supplies for their businesses. Funds are paid directly to suppliers.
Although the Programme is managed by the Division of Youth, an independent selection committee is responsible for awarding grants.
Private Sector Summer Employment Partnership
The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, in partnership with the private-business sector, provides employment opportunities for young people during the Summer period. Young people, between the ages of 16 – 26 years, are employed during the Summer, in an effort to equip them with “resume-building” work experience. Organisations interested in partnering with the Ministry and employing young people may submit their requests to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s Division of Youth. The Division of Youth reviews requests to ensure that appropriate matches between skills and personnel requirements are achieved..
The Junior Achievement’s High School Programme helps students make informed, intelligent decisions about their future, and fosters skills that are advantageous in the business world.
The Junior Achievement Programme has been in existence since 1979. With the support and guidance of volunteer advisers from the local business community, the JA Company Programme provides basic training in business for high school seniors. By organising and operating small businesses, students not only learn how businesses function but also about the structure of The Bahamas’ free enterprise system and the benefits derived there from.
The G.O.L.D. Initiative
The G.O.L.D. Initiative was created as a result of collaboration between between the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and The Governor General Youth Awards (GGYA) Programme,. The acronym, GOLD, stands for Greatness, Opportunities, Leadership and Development, all of which are part of the Government’s vision to establish a national youth development programme, available to all Bahamians, between the ages of 14 - 25 years. See the Gold Initiative website for more information at www.bahamasggya.org.
For more Information on all the aforementioned programmes please contact
The Division of Youth
Ground Floor, West Wing
P.O. Box N4891
Nassau, New Providence
Tel. (242) 502-0600
Opening hours: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday, except public holidays