Social Minister – Ms. Marcella Liburd
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
May 5, 2012 (SKNIS)
The Cabinet of Ministers in the Federal Government was impressed with the progress of the Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP) during a visit to its community farm.
The Sugar Industry Diversification Fund (SIDF) sponsored pilot programme is separated into two main parts ““ hydroponics food crop production and life skills training. It specifically targets “at risk” youth in the community. A total of 35 young men so far have immersed themselves in leaning about self-improvement and receiving counseling.
Hon. Marcella Liburd, Minister of Social Development, under whose ministry STEP falls, has been actively involved in bringing this programme to the young people of the community.
“What we did was we opened it up to applications and I went around telling them how they could apply” said Minister Liburd. “It isn’t that we went and handpicked any of them, we went around and told them this is a project that we are thinking about and tried to encourage them to become interested, because a lot of them were not doing anything so that they could go and apply through Youth Skills.” “I think around thirty something of the fifty something who applied turned up to the orientation and those were the thirty something that started here.”
Minister Liburd said although young men currently participating in the programme are satisfied with it; it is still a work in progress. She also said the greater response thus far has been from males.
“Well, they are satisfied with it but, it’s a work in progress in the sense that I don’t think some of them really understand the opportunity that they’re getting” said Minister Liburd. “It’s a two-part thing. There are some at the community center doing self-improvement and counseling. If they don’t get over that hump, they would not be able to use this opportunity that is presented to them.”
“I tried my best to get women involved in this because it was not just for men” said Minister Liburd. “I actually spoke to young women in the area and asked them to go and apply. I think only like two or three of them did apply and none of them showed up for the orientation so it just happened that it turns out to be all men.”
The programme is expected to have a downward effect on crime and the country’s import bill. Participant Brian Griffin in a comment to the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service (SKNIS) described the programme as a wonderful experience and sees himself as an upcoming fruit and vegetable producer in the future of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“Well so far I think that the programme has been wonderful and it has been a wonderful experience for most of the young men to come together” said Brian Griffin. “The best thing I got out of the programme is the teamwork as everybody got together and worked to accomplish one goal. In the future I expect to see myself as one of the biggest fruit and vegetable producer in St. Kitts. We are just trying to make sure that the nation is healthy and rich and keep it wealthy.