Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 13th 2015 Contents B19
youth elect tt
Wednesday, May 13, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
As the country currently prepares for
general election 2015, the Guardian Media
Limited (GML) saw it fitting to establish
an initiative---Youth Elect TT---to get young
people involved in the actual build-up and
hype surrounding the election.
Based on surveys carried out by GML, it
was evident that there was an element of
alienation among young people and a general
disinterest in politics.
So, according to GML s managing director,
Lisa Agard, Youth Elect TT was conceived
and brought to fruition.
"We looked at what other countries had
done in terms of getting the youths on board
and so out of our research we crafted this
programme, which has a very strong empha-
sis on social media because that is the way
young people communicate these days,"
Agard, who was one of the judges on the
debut audition, admitted that a lot of what
she heard from the young people present
that day reinforced GML s notion of the dis-
interest and alienation.
"A lot of them complained that they had
no platform to speak. No mechanism for
their voices to be heard. No means to express
and disseminate their ideas and as a con-
sequence of all of that, they felt a sense of
alienation from all that was happening polit-
ically," Agard said.
"What is amazing about young people is
that they are never short of ideas," she added.
Agard said some of the issues that were
spoken of by the young candidates raised
big question marks and flags in her mind.
She explained: "Some common themes
started to develop during the course of the
interviews. One was the lack of employment
"Obviously crime was a big deal and the
cracks in the education system, which I
thought fascinating because it seems to me
that as a result of the actions of successive
governments including this one with the
building and construction of early education
centres and all of this free education, up to
the tertiary level, there are no shortage of
opportunities for young people to be educated
yet they still complain about lack of oppor-
tunities. And so in my mind I started to
question whether there is a disconnect
between quantity and quality.
"Are we sacrificing quality for quantity?
Were we really marrying the needs of the
country from an employment perspective to
the curricula being pursued at these various
tertiary level institutions?" she said.
Agard referred to a candidate who she said
made a significant point with regards to the
lack of opportunity for youths to be part
and parcel of the decision-making process
"Many governments say they are creating
a future for the children and all of the things
that they are doing now is to ensure that we
have a sustainable environment, a sustainable
economy for the future for the children, and
yet we have a whole range of very capable
young people who are not being consulted
on the future that is being crafted for them,"
While GML does not have plans to pursue
Youth Elect TT as an annual event, GML
promises to look at, very carefully, how the
person who emerges as the elected Youth
Prime Minister develops.
"If we think that there is something that
we can do as a spin-off that will generate
interest and excitement around the GML
brand, then clearly, we would consider other
opportunities to get involved in spin-off
things or similar events, but at this stage,
there are no concrete plans but we will see
how things evolve," Agard said.
Former member of parliament, attorney
Mickela Panday, who also began her political
career at a very young age, gave kudos to
GML s initiative of Youth Elect TT.
Panday is one of the daughters of former
prime minister and former political leader
of the UNC Basdeo Panday.
Mickela, who represented the constituency
of Oropouche West, described Youth Elect
TT as a fabulous idea to get young people
involved in politics and to raise social aware-
ness problems which affected not only young
people, but the older folks as well.
"For me, on a personal level, this gives
me hope in the young people and I am
amazed to see that the younger generation
clearly is aware of what s happening and
what they can do or suggest to make that
change," Panday said.
Panday said she hoped for the continuance
of the initiative because she saw talent in
every person who came out for the audi-
Youth Elect judge:
Youths feel alienated from politics
Judges from, left, CNC3's Paige De Leon, Senior Counsel Martin Daly, former MP Mickela Panday and managing director of Guardian Media Ltd Lisa
Agard listen to issues raised by Youth Elect TT candidates vying for the Youth Prime Minister of T&T title. PHOTO: ROBERTO CODALLO
About the initiative
Youth Elect TT takes the format
of interviews conducted with the
Thirty-one young people were
There were 31 young people who
The finalists will then be selected
via scores tallied by the judges.
Another audition process will be
held with the finalists, four of
whom will then be eliminated as a
result of voting.
This will be done only on the
social media platforms Facebook
The eight people remaining will
then be brought before the original
panel of judges, who will then
change roles to become mentors
Ultimately, when it comes down
to the final two, there will be a
debate-style showdown between
the final two.
They will be required to publish a
manifesto, upon which they will be
Once the youth prime minister is
elected there are wonderful plans
for that individual, in terms of
getting them international
experience and exposure, and
having them participate in youth
parliaments in other parts of the
This will also carve a path for
that young person, on a national
level, so they can build the national
brand and get into politics if they
"What is amazing about
young people is that they
are never short of ideas."
Managing director of GML
"For me, on a personal level, this gives me hope in the
young people and I am amazed to see that the younger
generation clearly is aware of what's happening and
what they can do or suggest to make that change."
Mickela Panday, former parliamentarian
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