2008/2009 BUDGET DEBATE
THE HON. BYRAN S. WOODSIDE, MP
MINISTER OF STATE FOR YOUTH & SPORTS
11th June, 2008
BAHAMAS TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL INSTITUTE
Walkabouts, monthly meetings and weekly meetings were held in Pinewood.
Pinewood constituents are now saying that they have a humble and accessible Member of Parliament who makes himself available to them.
Despite attempts to distract me for some four (4) months in Election Court, I have been able to ably represent the good people of Pinewood.
Just to name some of the activities and work conducted in Pinewood:
Back to school programme which included donation of school supplies throughout the Pinewood Constituency to the Cleveland Eneas Primary School.
Support to the Pinewood Crusaders Christian Junkanoo Group and the Marching Band.
Annual Christmas gift donations to the children of Pinewood and Christmas party.
Thanks to the Minister of Works and his staff paving of roads in Pinewood have taken place. Walnut Street which had not been paved in some 20 plus years was paved, as well as a number of streets in the Pinewood Constituency were re-surfaced.
There was also the construction of sidewalks on Buttonwood Street. Thanks again to the Ministry of Works.
The main Pinewood Park was kept clean, thanks to the Ministry of Health and Environmental Department. In addition, the main Pinewood Park received a facelift. The basketball courts were resurfaced, new rims erected and wood planks for bleachers were replaced.
We introduced a Food Voucher Programme for families in need. This programme enabled persons to receive emergency assistance to get food on the tables of some families.
In Pinewood there are a number of talented young people. I am pleased to indicate that recently a young lady by the name of Miss Nequra Campbell executed an initiative that she developed to assist aspiring young entrepreneurs in Pinewood and in New Providence.
On Saturday past she hosted a Youth Discovering Entrepreneurship Seminar. This event was well attended and demonstrated what can be achieved when we allow our young people to dream and we assist them in bringing their dreams into reality.
I am also pleased to announce to the good people of Pinewood that the projects which were proposed under the constituency allowance have been approved by the good Minister of Finance.
It was agreed that we would utilize the $100,000 allowance on three projects, namely:
1. The construction of a male: female toilet block on the main Pinewood Park;
2. A clean-up campaign that will address the clearing of overgrown properties that have been allowed to become eyesores and dumping grounds; and as well the removal of derelict vehicles throughout the Constituency.
3. The purchase of active boards, monitors and laptops for five classrooms at the Cleveland Eneas School. (This is intended to ensure that children of Pinewood who attend the Cleveland Eneas Primary School will be exposed to first-world modern technology in their classroom.
Plans are underway for the further advancement of the young people of Pinewood, improvements in the community and continued efforts to make Pinewood a safe constituency.
In respect to the latter, I wish to thank Superintendant Dean and his staff of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, South Eastern Station. Thanks sir, for your efforts in organizing the Pinewood Community Neighbourhood Crime Watch Organization and for the keen, alert and conscientious service provided by the Royal Bahamas Police Force in making Pinewood a safe community.
As I mentioned in my first Budget Contribution on June 5, 2007, “the good people of Pinewood sought to unshackle themselves during the recent General Elections.
They wanted change, better representation and new leadership. They wanted restoration of trust. They got their wishes through peaceful and democratic means at the polls”.
And may I now add, they got it again at Election Court where the party opposite sought to “count it again, man’.
I further sated that the good people of Pinewood have placed their trust in me. With God’s help and guidance, I will give them my best.
Here again I pledge to give the people of Pinewood my utmost and very best through God’s guidance and mercy.
DEPARTMENT OF YOUTH
During the 2008/09 Budget period the Government will continue to focus on new and innovative approaches toward empowering and training young Bahamians to enhance their life experiences. The Department of Youth and Sports will strengthen and expand mentoring and apprenticeship programmes for young persons; expand vocational and technical training in the Government-operated school system and institute; expand job placement programmes for after school leavers; increase support for after school-activities in education, youth, sports, recreational, cultural and community activities; and will, provide life-affirming and enriching experiences for our youth.
YOUTH SUMMER PROGRAMME
Last summer, over 5,000 young people attended summer camps. In these summer camps, they were engaged in various activities throughout The Bahamas. Hundreds of our youth were placed on jobs to supervise and instruct the thousands of young people, between 5-15 years, in organized activities, character building and sporting and cultural activities for a period of 4 weeks. This year, July, the Summer Programme will again take place. A coordinated effort is being made to ensure that as many young people as possible are employed to assist with providing wholesome activities for the children and young persons attending the summer camps. The amount of 946,000.00, an increase of $246,000.00, has been provided in the 2008/09 Budget of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture for this programme. The increase is a reflection of the amount of monies needed for the Summer Programme.
NATIONAL YOUTH MONTH
The month of May was recognized as National Youth Month. Last year, because of the national demands of the 2007 general elections and the many challenges for organizers and participants, youth leaders and the Department of Youth technical staff recommended the postponement of National Youth month to October. Last October proved to be the best time for these celebrations, especially as they included the celebrations of The Bahamas’ World Champions in Athletics for their achievement at the 2007 World Championships in Japan. We will again hold National Youth Month in October 2008, and will include the celebrations of the success of the Bahamas’ Olympic Team that will be competing in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China in August.
In 2008, The Government introduced the establishment of a youth entrepreneurial programme called the SelfStarters Programme. The basic components of the SelfStarters Programme are: the empowerment of young persons to own businesses; the provision of funding for the business; providing assistance through mentorship, training, seminars and workshops for business owners; and monitoring, evaluating and following up to ensure that the businesses are successful. The sum $1 million dollars was earmarked in the Budget of the Department of Youth and Sports, to provide aspiring young Bahamians funding to purchase tools and supplies for the creation of new businesses or for expanding existing businesses. Grants, ranging from $1,000.00 – $5,000.00, will be given to the successful applicants to assist in acquiring the supplies and equipment necessary for their businesses.
The SelfStarters programme was launched in New Providence with a two day Application Fair held at the Kendal G. L. Isaacs Gymnasium. Over 200 application forms were given out and 150 individuals were interviewed. An Application Fair was held at the Foster B. Pestina Center in Grand Bahama where approximately 100 individuals participated in the fair. I traveled with Officers from the Ministry and held SelfStarters Promotional Meetings in Grand Bahama, Abaco and Andros. And, teams from the Ministry conducted interviews and promoted the programme in Eleuthera and Exuma. It is the intention of the Department of Youth to continue these promotional SelfStarters Meetings in the other Family Islands.
A Selection Committee, comprised of business persons and persons in the banking sector, was appointed by the Ministry to select the applicants. Cheques will be made payable directly to the suppliers for the tools and suppliers once the application has been approved. The Public Treasury System will be used to disburse funds for the SelfStarters Programme in order that the disbursement of the grants could be easily controlled and monitored.
This is a model programme which will be improved as we go along; we believe that this is a great opportunity to assist young persons to become successful entrepreneurs and own their own business, thereby participating in the socio-economic development of The Bahamas. The Government of The Bahamas believes in investing in young people and improving the quality of life through the combined efforts of hard work, dedication, a solid vision and a helping hand.
The Ministry of Education, Youth Sports and Culture encourages young Bahamians with viable business ideas to come forth and take full advantage of the SelfStarters Programme. The Government has provided an additional $1 million in the 2008/09 Budget for the Self Starters programme. These funds will be used to award grants to successful applicants in the second phase of the Programme.
NATIONAL YOUTH RESTORATIVE PROGRAMME
The Government continued its partnership with the Roman Catholic Church and YEAST, with the Restorative Component of the National Youth Development Programme. This year a total of 70 young men participated in a 6-9 month character enrichment, vocational and educational programme at the North Andros residential camp site. It is being estimated that the success rate of this programme is at 90%. The programme experienced a set-back due to a fire, which destroyed one of the main sleeping quarters; however funding has been put in the 2008/09 Capital Budget to rebuild the dormitories. The Roman Catholic Diocese and the Department of Youth staff will meet to discuss and determine the way forward with this programme and make their recommendations to the Government. The amount of $900,000.00 has again been placed in the 2008/09 Budget for the National Youth Programme.
The Fresh Start programme provides the out-of-school, unskilled youth with skills necessary to seek and maintain a job. This programme, coordinated by the Department of Youth, provides the young person who is out of school and unemployed, with a structured programme in personal development, conflict resolution, job readiness training and the social skills necessary for the job market. Each young person also takes part in community service, an introductory computer course and is placed on the job to gain practical experience for 6-8 weeks.
Over the years, the Fresh Start Programme has attracted a number of partners in the private sector who, along with the Government, provide a minimal wage salary for each of the participants to take part in internship. Participants are also provided with stipends during the training to assist with lunch, day care and transportation.
This year, two programmes were conducted concurrently – one in New Providence and the other in Grand Bahama. The programme in New Providence provided 26 recently graduated young men from the National Youth Service/YEAST program, with the opportunity of a ‘fresh start’. Many of these young men, who will not return to school, have been able to maintain these new jobs, to be empowered and a have new look on life. In Grand Bahama, 45 young persons are being trained and provided with a “fresh start”. The business community in Grand Bahama assisted young people in the programme with jobs placement and employment. The sum of $130,000.00 has been provided in the 2008/09 Budget for Fresh Start. It is intended to conduct the programme in New Providence, Grand Bahama and hopefully introduce it to one or more of the Family Islands.
NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY
Youth Driven, Youth Led. Consultations for the implementation of a National Youth Policy of the Bahamas are continuing. Already, consultations have taken place in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco and Exuma; there is a schedule for visiting the Family Islands to carry out consultations in the upcoming months. The creation of a National Youth Policy for The Bahamas is an acknowledgement of the specific needs of young people, as well as a formal recognition of their unique contribution to national development. This policy will provide a means and a symbol for society as a whole to declare, document and intensify their commitment to their young citizens and an opportunity to determine appropriate priorities, goals and strategies.
During the summer months, an extensive Market Research will take place throughout the islands. These surveys will serve as further information gathering on the issues that affect our youth as well as the attitudes of young people. It is envisioned that the policy will be completed by mid-2009.
As our high school students continue to position themselves for their future, Junior Achievement Bahamas continues to provide the unanswered questions about what lies ahead. In 2008, JA will have a new Chairman, Mr. Raymond Winder, and a new Board of Directors will be installed. This year’s budget of $130,000.00 reflects the continued growth of the programme throughout the islands, affording all young people the opportunity to develop leadership skills, public speaking skills, business skills and teamwork.
Additionally, 2008-2009, JA Bahamas will celebrate its 30th anniversary celebrations. There will be an additional six Family Island programmes, five additional international college academic scholarship opportunities and the launch of a JA in-school programme.
NATIONAL YOUTH MENTORSHIP PROGRAMME
The initial stages for the implementation of a National Youth Mentorship Programme have begun. Already, interest meetings have been conducted to craft a programme suited for execution. Following further planning, a completed document will set the parameters for a full mentorship programme. Already, the Department of Youth, has trained a cadre of men within the community who mentor the at risk males that return from the Ministry/YEAST programme. This Mentorship programme will reach out to both adult men and women who wish to counsel and guide young persons during their most challenging times.
Most experts agree that After-School Programmes offer healthy and positive alternatives. These programmes keep young people safe, improve academic achievement and help relieve the stresses on today’s working families. They can serve as important youth violence prevention and intervention strategies and can be a powerful vehicle for improving the community-life of Bahamians. The proposed national After-School Programme will be a collaborative effort between the Departments of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, the Ministry of Health, the Department of Urban Renewal, the Community Affairs Division and Youth and Sports Organizations/Federations. It is envisioned that as the programme grows, it can be offered in conjunction with the summer programme, as well as parenting and evening classes for adults. The pilot programme is scheduled for September 2008 in a number of Primary and High schools in New Providence and Grand Bahama, to allow for full evaluation and further development of the programme. Full implementation of this National Programme will take place in September 2009.
DEPARTMENT OF SPORTS
As Minister of State for Youth and Sports, I am pleased to use this opportunity, which the 2008 Budget Debate provides, to issue these formal comments on the state of sports in The Bahamas and plans for the new fiscal year. The Department of Sports will ready itself to take on the challenges, which we will be compelled to overcome if our archipelago is to continue its onward trek toward even greater national and international successes on the world stage of sport and high level athletic achievement.
It is perhaps most fitting to begin by respectfully acknowledging the physical transition of a number of retired outstanding Bahamian sports administrators and athletes in the last fiscal year. Among other sports heroes of the past, I wish to acknowledge the rich contributions made to the development of sports in The Bahamas by the late world champion bodybuilder, Tony Carroll; the late outstanding basketball coach, Mr. Godfrey McQuay; international Hall of Fame Softball Administrator, Mr. Arthur Thompson; the late manager of the Winnie Ann Reds/ Schlitz Malt Liquer/100 Pipers Baseball Club, Mr. Allan Jackson; the late outstanding professional baseball player, Mr. Roy Bethell; the late Mrs. Rozina Nesbitt; former national team player in softball and volleyball; and the late Captain Rolly Gray, after whom representation has been made to re-name Elizabeth Harbour in Exuma. The fond affection which these sporting giants created in the hearts of the Bahamian community will cause each of them to remain permanent fixtures in the annals of Bahamian sports.
It is from within such a frame of reference that I find the inclination to express my gratitude and appreciation for being afforded the opportunity, over the past year, to act as the primary advocate for protecting and enhancing the interests of the local sporting community. Indeed, the entire span of my tenure has given me an opportunity to more fully comprehend the magnitude of the demands placed upon any individual assigned to a post such as mine. These demands are often accompanied by expectations which are abnormally high, given that the Minister of State for Youth and Sports is constrained in his capabilities by the legal confines of The Sports Act. At times, such constraints appeared to be of little consequence to some members of the sporting community in and outside The Bahamas, attributing to the Ministers, authority greater than that which they actually possess under the law.
Permit me to say that such abnormally high expectations might well be interpreted as an indication of the healthy respect which our country has earned for itself throughout the world, generated in large measure, by the sacrifices and accomplishments of our great elite athletes. The preference, therefore, is to subscribe to such an interpretation, inviting the people of The Bahamas to stand proud and grateful, grounded in the knowledge that on a per capita basis, no other country has been able to match what we have achieved over the past decade and one-half, in terms of the World and Olympic Champions, that our country has produced. In fact, The Bahamas has become the yardstick by which many older and larger countries measure themselves, referencing our small size and limited resources against our dynamic world class achievements.
My submission is that our sterling achievements of the past were a product of the timely encounter between proper preparation and ripe opportunity. For just as no successes could have been had without the visionary effort and the limitless sacrifices of scores of Bahamians, so too are the odds that our international achievements could have occurred without the opportunities afforded under the policies of the Ministry responsible for sports, complemented by strategic support provided by The Bahamas Government. Indeed, our outstanding achievements in 2007 were rooted in an ideal combination of effort from athletes and their coaches, from public and private sector agencies and from the dedication and leadership exhibited by the national federations which govern sports in The Bahamas.
I am therefore pleased to note that much achievement evidenced itself during the past calendar year, with Bahamian athletes and sports teams excelling in territories as diverse as the neighbouring Caribbean and the distant Czech Republic; from capricious Brazil to mirthful Australia; from historic France to a modern Japan. In all these foreign spaces and international places, the name of The Bahamas was emblazoned into the firmament of time, affirming the proven capacity of this small nation to influence the world order in international sports.
By any standard of measurement then, organized sports in The Bahamas is currently in robust health, so much so that our country appears to be entering a new golden age of sports. Such a view is supported by the tremendous international advances in youth soccer, youth golf, youth baseball, youth cricket, youth gymnastics, youth basketball, youth rugby, youth swimming, youth lawn tennis and youth track and field. At the senior level, much of the same kind of international advances were made in boxing, bodybuilding, cycling, swimming, soccer and track and field. The accomplishments by all these national teams constitute ample evidence of the progressive work being done by the local coaches and sports administrators of The Bahamas.
Notwithstanding these successes, the fact remains that more national effort is required if The Bahamas is to realize the maximum benefits from all the material and abstract properties that are universally attributed to sports as a tool for adding value to the lives of humanity. As a consequence of the desire to assist such an effort, attention is drawn to the fact that in the current national budget, allocations made for Sports Development have exceeded that of all previous years, with one item alone, the National Sports Endowment fund doubled in size from the previous high of $1,000,000 to $2,000,000, and again 2,000.00 in the 2008/09 Budget.
Such a development is clearly demonstrative of the conviction of this government to elevate sports to its rightful place as an important instrument for nation building. Furthermore, within the first several months of the current fiscal year, considerable effort has had to be expended to arrest administrative drawbacks that evolved in the recent past.
It is also noteworthy to bring attention to the significance of the decision to return Regatta sailing to the Department of Sports. Such a logical initiative has permitted the commencement of a formal exercise to develop a Comprehensive National Policy on regattas. The intended outcome is to establish a national calendar for Regattas one year in advance, which would permit the development of a proper annual budget for the sport. It should also be noted that the Ministry is prepared to entertain argument for identifying workboat sailing as the national sport of The Bahamas. It is noted that the funding for Regattas was increased from $400,000.00 in the 2007/08 Budget to $493,000.00 in the 2008/09 Budget.
More specific to school sports, it is important to re-emphasize the flaw in persons who should know better than to attribute to the Minister of State for Youth and Sports, authority which is greater than that which he actually possesses under the law. Suffice it to say that once a matter falls within the lawful domain of the Department of Sports, and once a request satisfies the requisite criteria, fullest attention will always be given to affording the most desirable outcome. Consequently, concerns given recent public expression constitute no exception to such a policy. Furthermore, in 2008 my Department of Sports will seek to enhance its working relationship with all interschool sports organizations.
Opportunity is also taken to endorse the prudent and pragmatic decision of the Government of The Bahamas, taken exactly thirty years ago, to develop and enunciate a National Core Sports Programme at the time of the establishment of a Ministry for Sports 1978. The collective determination was that The Bahamas could most efficiently become a global Sports Power by concentrating its resources on a select number of disciplines, as opposed to attempting to provide parity to each of the seventy-two strains of sports being played in The Bahamas at that time. Compelling such a wise decision was the following:
the small and scattered population of The Bahamas;
the relative scarcity of resources;
the rich diversity of sporting disciplines practiced by Bahamians; and,
the obligation and cost of building facilities for such a large variety of disciplines in all our population centers.
The Government subsequently proceeded to establish the criteria for a discipline to be designated a Core Sport. These conditions were set out to include:
Rate of participation by and manifested interest of the community at large;
Professional opportunities offered by the sport;
Scholarship opportunities offered by the sport;
Previous success rate of Bahamians internationally;
Proven ability of Bahamians to consistently perform at world class standard;
Equal opportunities for men and women;
Youth involvement opportunities.
Track and field and nine other disciplines currently constitute the National Core Sport Programme and as a matter of intent, these disciplines have intentionally been designated to receive preferential consideration in the allocation of funding. Such funding is allocated in two forms: an Annual Base Grant which all Core Sport Federations receive; or a Special Grant for which all Core Sport Federations are eligible to apply, having submitted justification which satisfies the given national objectives of this Ministry.
It is likewise of consequence that the Track and Field Federation most comprehensively meets all of the prescribed qualifications of a Core Sport. In addition, each year this governing body is able to justify its funding requests and each year it provides an audited financial statement, detailing how all its grants and contributions are utilized. It is also fair to acknowledge that by its performance over the decade, track and field has justified the assistance which it has annually requested. The Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture accordingly finds equal justification in seeking to meet but a small percentage of the annual international obligations of that organization, as well as those of any other Core Sport Federation demonstrating the proper credentials. The Ministry will demand transparency and accountability of Federations.
On the matter of the subvention of elite athletes programme for 2008, the determination remains that such assistance will be primarily offered to assist the training expenses of athletes in the Core Sport disciplines. Upon their retirement or their failure to meet the required standards, the assistance will cease. Here, the burden will remain upon the respective national federation for first applying for the subvention of the given athlete, providing all the required documentation. The onus is also upon that federation to request a replacement for the athlete who retires or fails to maintain the required standards.
As we advance our efforts in 2008 therefore, the Ministry will conform itself to the international norm of placing greatest emphasis on assisting our national teams for participation in this year’s Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China. The general thrust will therefore be to ensure that a culture of thoughtfulness persists in the apportioning of available funding, concentrating an appropriate measure of effort on the development of the Core Sport disciplines. Such attention to the Core Sports will not be at the expense of the less traditional, less popular sporting disciplines. In fact, precedent was set in 2007 when approval was obtained to annualize grants to a number of them; including Special Olympics.
Also, consistent with policy, all Core Sport athletes and National Teams will remain eligible to receive Incentive Grants upon achieving the prescribed level of success at the Olympic Games or World Championships in their particular discipline. Policy precludes the ordinary retroactive provision of Incentive Grants to Olympic Medallists or World Champions who attained such successes prior to the establishment of the policy on Incentive Grants. It should here be noted that the requests for the payment of Incentive Grants were received for performances dating back to 1972. The level of funding to retroactively honour such requests is prohibitive and favourable consideration was never afforded.
Finally, opportunity is taken to advise that in 2008 my office will cause the induction of additional retired elite athletes of The Bahamas into the National Hall of Fame. The names of these outstanding sports heroes will be released in due course. A new initiative to be undertaken will be the finalization of plans for the creation of a National Sports Authority as projected in Manifesto 2007. Preliminarily consideration has already been devoted to the creation of such an Authority and National Federations and all other stakeholders will be asked to express their thoughts on the nine component units which have initially been proposed to constitute the Authority. These proposed components are as follows:
1. A National Sports Medicine Commission.
2. A National Sports Academy for developing Elite Athletes.
3. An Academic Eligibility Council to assist student athletes.
4. A Sports Arbitration Tribunal with binding powers to resolve sports disputes.
5. A Referees and Officials Confederation to train and certify coaches, referees and game officials.
6. A Means and Methods Commission to vet national teams and to locate funding for sports.
7. A National Interschool Sports Confederation to harmonize all interschool sports.
8. A Professional Sports Unit to include existing statuary bodies charged with managing pro sports.
9. A Family Islands Sports Secretariat which will concentrate on improving the standards of competitive sport in the Family Islands.
Thinking in this regard is at the initial stages and as noted earlier, fullest consultation will be undertaken with all stakeholders to ensure that the National Sports Authority will enjoy the fullest confidence and support of all sectors of the national and international sporting community.
One other new initiative has been the addition of a new line item for $60,000.00 in my Ministry’s budget, Aid to Student Athletes. This particular item represents a pilot effort to assist qualified student-athletes with the cost of attending the College of The Bahamas. In the past, local student athletes who wanted to attend the College of the Bahamas opted to attend schools abroad because financial assistance was more readily available for them to attend those offshore institutions. This initiative is therefore a pilot attempt to address such circumstances and to aid the athletic programme at the College of The Bahamas.
In conclusion, I wish to extend to the entire Bahamian sporting community, the best of good wishes for a healthy and successful year in 2008 – 2009, along with every assurance that I will not shirk from my responsibility to advance the best prospects of national sports development.
Sporting and recreational facilities
National Stadium project
The Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture is involved in ongoing discussions with the Ministry of Public Works & Transport and relevant stakeholders regarding the Master Plan for the development of the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre. The Master Plan will allow for: Strategic planning to accelerate the development of the National Stadium; provide costing to the Bahamas Government for infrastructural work associated with the construction of the New Stadium; allocation of land at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre to Core Sports; and for the replacement of the Churchill Tenner Knowles National Softball Stadium and the Andre’ Rodgers National Baseball Stadium.
Tenders are being sought from consulting firms for the development of the Master Plan. Such a Master Plan was not available for the orderly development and layout of this complex, in relation to the National Stadium, and a Master Plan is vital to the entire development. Once this Master Plan and costing are developed, the Ministry and the Chinese Government will proceed with the construction within the very foreseeable future.
In keeping with my Government’s belief that sports and leisure is integral to a healthy, happy population; the following initiatives will take place:
(i) Acceleration of the construction of the Baseball and Softball Stadium in New Providence;
(ii) Construction of gymnasium in Abaco and Eleuthera;
(iii) Construction of multi playing fields in selected Family Island;
(iv) Upgrading of the Boxing Centre in New Providence;
(v) Replacement of the High Mass Lights at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium.
(vi) Completion of the softball field and the 400 metre Warm- up Track at the Grand Bahama Sporting Complex;
(vii) Completion of a 400 metre track at Simms Long Island;
(viii) Upgrading of sporting facilities in Abaco, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Exuma and Long Island impacted by hurricanes.
(ix) Improvements to playing fields; grounds; sporting complex and recreational facilities.
Betty Kelly Kenning National Swim Complex
Mindful of the role that the Betty Kelly Kenning National
Swim Complex plays in the life of the Local swimming community and in hosting international Swim events, the Government will continue its extensive renovation exercise at the Betty Kelly Kenning National Swim Complex and the South Beach Pools.
Parks & Playgrounds
Our Government is committed to the orderly development of neighborhood playgrounds and Community Parks throughout The Bahamas and, to provide for the upgrade and upkeep of these recreational facilities. The Ministry will ensure that these recreational facilities are improved and kept in a useable condition and properly equipped for the use of all Bahamians in their respective communities throughout The Bahamas.
BAHAMAS TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL INSTITUTE
Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute has begun its move to becoming the Nation’s number one technical tertiary institution by evaluating and upgrading its existing curricula, and in so doing increased contact hours, as per accreditation standards, to ensure students received adequate instructions.
The Student Success Learning Centre has been established and will provide opportunities for persons to achieve academic competencies necessary for successful completion of life long skills. This much needed addition will assist persons to bridge the academic divide and provide workforce preparation for individuals at all levels.
The Business Plan to affect the transition to a semi-autonomous institution, along with the new BTVI Act to provide the framework, has been submitted for approval. Included is a review of the strategic plan for the Institution. The overall restructuring of the institution, in line with that of tertiary institutions and a partnership with Industry to ensure that the workforce needs of the economy are met; along with emphasis on student services at the institution, are under review.
The integration of Caribbean Vocational Standards, along with International standards, can only serve to produce a workforce that will prepare individuals with life skills; and in so doing can impact the immigration challenges as qualified skilled and semi-skilled individuals are graduated.
Coordination and alignment with Secondary Vocational curricula is being examined to assist in a seamless transition to post-secondary level. However, the need for basic training is not eliminated so as to provide entry-level training for those who would not have received basic instructions at the secondary level.
BTVI continued its programme of Strategic Technical and Educational Preparation, a programme offering High School students an opportunity to gain basic skills in construction areas while continuing their secondary education. This day release program began with C.R. Walker School in the fall and attracted students of Government High School and C.I. Gibson in January; a total of 54 students participated this academic year.
The establishment of the IT Academy, an e-government initiative offering certification in software and hardware programmes, was opened to a select group of Government employees in order to complete the Cisco Certified Network Associate programme (CCNA); subsequently, a second program was available to the public in January.
This paradigm shift requires not only a mind shift but continuous upgrade of programmes, upgrade of physical structure, hiring qualified personnel and having adequate funding to meet this challenge.
The Bahamas Support Programme for Transforming Education and Training is one catalyst that will provide the means to achieve the objective of a transformed semi-autonomous Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute, and for a credible organization addressing the needs of the workforce and offering that choice for Bahamians.
In conclusion, the Departments of Youth and Sports and BTVI have a vital role to play in transforming and developing the nation’s youth. The allocation of funds for Youth, Sports and Culture in the 2008/09 Budget in the amounts of $17,977,806, an increase of $3,545,050 over the 2007/08 Budget, will go a long way in funding the Ministry’s programme during this Budget period. The allocation of $6,115,976 for BTVI is an increase of $92,825 over the 2007/08 Budget and will fund the needs of BTVI. The Capital Budget of $6,530,000, an increase of $660,000 from the 2007/08 Budget, will allow the Ministry to improve parks and playgrounds, construct new gymnasiums, upgrade and maintain sporting facilities, maintain BTVI buildings and carry out other capital development projects.
The Ministry will continue with the implementation of Youth, Sports and Culture initiatives that will help to develop businesses, social and national youth programmes; promote excellence in sports, through sports endowment, subventions, incentives; to carry out cultural programmes and to develop technical and vocational skills for young persons to help them find employment and create jobs for meaningful participation in national development.
We will continue to consult the Bahamian people on programmes and projects for effectiveness and partner with stakeholders such as youth organizations, sports associations and federations, cultural organization and educational entities in an effort to help the Ministry to carry out its mission.
We all have a duty to assist and develop our youth by providing guidance and positive programmes that will help them with their personal development and to provide them with skills necessary for life experiences. We must do our best, with the help of God to ensure that the youth of the nation, the future generation of leaders, are well equipped to take over of The Bahamas.