‘Con­ver­sa­tions with Young Ja­maicans’ ini­tia­tive

Jamaica Gleaner - - YL: FEATURE -

THE OF­FICE of the Political Om­buds­man builds on re­la­tion­ship with youth through the ‘Con­ver­sa­tions with Young Ja­maicans’ ini­tia­tive

Cre­at­ing a strong and long re­la­tion­ship with Ja­maica’s youth, The Of­fice of the Political Om­buds­man, which has started the Con­ver­sa­tions with Young Ja­maicans ini­tia­tive, seeks to in­form the younger gen­er­a­tion of Ja­maicans about the pur­pose and role of the political om­buds­man un­der the Political Om­buds­man (In­terim) Act. In­ves­ti­ga­tion of ac­tions from political par­ties which break the Agree­ment and Dec­la­ra­tion on Political Con­duct, signed in 2005 to pro­mote and en­sure good political prac­tices, is a pri­or­ity. The ini­tia­tive gives the youth a plat­form to share their views and opin­ions on the same as­pects of Ja­maican gov­er­nance and pol­i­tics that the om­buds­man mon­i­tors in or­der to fa­cil­i­tate both youth em­pow­er­ment and in­ter­est in Ja­maican pol­i­tics and gov­er­nance.

The High Com­mis­sion of Canada in Ja­maica has part­nered with the Of­fice of the Political Om­buds­man in this ini­tia­tive.

As part of the ini­tia­tive, the Political Om­buds­man Donna Parch­ment Brown and her team went on a school tour to visit sixth-for­m­ers at six schools. Mona High School was vis­ited in the Cor­po­rate Area, while Frome Tech­ni­cal High School, Man­ning’s School, Munro Col­lege, Beth­le­hem Mo­ra­vian Col­lege and Parch­ment Brown’s alma mater, Hamp­ton School for Girls, were the schools vis­ited in the west. At each school, Parch­ment Brown ex­plained her role as the political om­buds­man and the im­por­tance of stan­dards in pol­i­tics and good gov­er­nance. This pro­vided a plat­form for a ro­bust and free-flow­ing dis­cus­sion with the stu­dents, who shared their own views and opin­ions on these mat­ters. The stu­dents com­pleted a brief sur­vey at each ses­sion.

Based on the re­sponses of the sur­vey, the om­buds­man’s visit was gen­er­ally well re­ceived by the stu­dents as all the re­spon­dents found the in­for­ma­tion she pre­sented to be both use­ful and in­for­ma­tive. They were also ap­pre­cia­tive of the fact that their views, which they of­ten thought as be­ing ig­nored due to their age, were, in fact, be­ing seen as im­por­tant enough that a ma­jor gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial such as the political om­buds­man would ask, lis­ten and en­gage in con­ver­sa­tion based on these opin­ions. More events like this were called for, not only by the political om­buds­man but by other se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials as well, to fur­ther in­form the youth and hear their own opin­ions.

Due to the re­cent call­ing of lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions, the of­fice has post­poned the school tour un­til Jan­uary, when she in­tends to visit more ru­ral and ur­ban schools across the is­land. In the mean­time, recog­nis­ing that so­cial me­dia is a pow­er­ful tool and the most ef­fec­tive means of reach­ing a young de­mo­graphic, the Of­fice of the Political Om­buds­man will post the Con­ver­sa­tions the Young Ja­maicans ini­tia­tive events on­line to show the work of the of­fice, while giv­ing young peo­ple a medium to ex­press their own views and par­tic­i­pate in pol­i­tics and gov­er­nance in Ja­maica.

The Of­fice of the Political Om­buds­man can be found on Face­book @The Of­fice of the Political Om­buds­man, on Twit­ter @Om­buds­manJA and on In­sta­gram @Po­lit­i­calOm­buds­manJA.

Beth­le­hem Mo­ra­vian Col­lege stu­dents also sup­port the ini­tia­tive.

Political Om­buds­man Donna Parch­ment Brown with stu­dents from Frome.

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