Youths encouraged to keep learning during COVID-19 pandemic

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, May 28, 2020

Young people are being encouraged to utilise their time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic to acquire knowledge whether via the internet or books to prepare themselves when they come out of this period.

This view was shared by Columnist and Senior Education and Training Officer attached to the office of the Presidential Advisor on Youth Empowerment, Ronald Austin Jr.

Austin along with CEO of Professional Development Enterprise, Rawle Dundas and Executive Director of STEM Guyana, Karen Abrams were panellists on a youth forum focusing on leadership and life skills broadcast on the National Communication Network (NCN).

Executive Director of STEM Guyana Karen Abrams

Columnist and Senior Education and Training Officer attached to the Office of the Presidential Advisor on Youth Empowerment Ronald Austin Jr

CEO, Professional Development Enterprise Rawle Dundas

Austin noted that in the youths who have passed through their empowerment training programmes will possess among other leadership characteristics four key qualities that will see them through this challenging period – resilience, empathy, integrity and vision.

“Resilience – the capacity to recover quickly from difficult circumstances, both physically and mentally. Empathy – if you occupy a position of leadership, then you have to show people that you care and understand what they are going through. Integrity – be responsible in the information you share; follow the science, follow the data and advise people properly. Have a vision – even though times are difficult there are opportunities and the persons who profess to be leaders have to be able to see beyond the situation.”

He posited that youth leaders who have benefitted from empowerment programmes and have the necessary coping skills are morally obligated to look within their communities and identify those young people who are having difficulty coping.

Also, he noted that various departments will need to either restructure their programmes or create new ones to assist vulnerable and disabled youths who have no access to the internet and other technological tools.

Meanwhile, Abrams underscored the fact that Guyanese youths are valuable resources to be moulded to contribute to the efficient development of the country and must be given the necessary tools to be successful.

She cited an example. “Companies looking to invest in Guyana are looking for resources. They will not say ‘oh Guyana does not have the resources let me table or pause this project until they have the resource es in the future’. No, they will bring the resources in from outside because their project is tied to profitability.”

Abrams believes that in the global arena what can distinguish Guyanese youths will be their ability to be creative, to bring solutions, to understand the space they occupy enough to identify problems and craft solutions.

“Youths operating in a global environment are not just competing with young people in Guyana. They are being exposed to global/international companies that are coming here looking for skills. Not just academic skills but those essential soft skills that will differentiate them for the competition,” Abrams stated.

These soft skills – self-confidence, communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, critical thinking and a work ethic – which are key to developing leadership ability are the key elements that underpin the STEM Guyana programme, she noted.

For his part, Dundas reminded that “opportunities do exist and if you don’t find them step out of the box and create them.”

“You may be able to plant/farm, help with deliveries, volunteer to help an older person whose yard needs weeding or groceries delivered. Start by looking for things to do right within your community,” Dundas stated.

It starts with a changed mindset, believing that it is possible and not allowing your environment or circumstances to control your decisions/choices he remarked.

It was highlighted that this forum was the first among other virtual activities being hosted by the Department of Youth for National Youth Week which runs from May 24-30.

The moderator, Andrea Bryan-Garner also disclosed that there will be another programme on Good Health and Wellbeing on Saturday, May 30. On NCN. Then on June 3, there will be another panel discussion on Entrepreneurship and Employment.

Also, the Small Business and Financial Literacy training programme will begin on June 8 and interested persons can visit the Department of Youth’s Facebook page for more details.

Importantly, Bryan-Garner also announced that a psycho-social support app will soon be launched which will offer counselling and mentorship services for young people amid this COIVD-19 pandemic.

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Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. We urge citizens to practice good hygiene and social or physical distancing also adhere to the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health, Guyana.