‘Conversations with Young Jamaicans’ initiative
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.