FREEPORT, Grand Bahama — Minister of State for Lands and Local Government the Hon Byran Woodside announced that the Local Government Junior Council Pilot Project is the most evolutionary undertaking of Local Government since its inception in The Bahamas in 1996.
He made the observation as he officially launched the Project during ceremonies at the Susan J Wallace Center in Freeport on Thursday.
The kick-off attracted participating students from both the St Georges and Sir Jack Hayward High Schools. The two Grand Bahama schools are among six schools throughout the country participating in the project.
The others are Abaco Central High School, R M Gomez in the Berry Islands, North Andros High School and the San Salvador High School.
Addressing the students in attendance Mr Woodside said, “You, along with students from four other islands have been afforded an unique opportunity, and the opportunity to experience, to participate in the affairs and operation of Local Government, through the Junior Council pilot project.”
He said the Local Government Junior Council Pilot Project is an initiative of the Department of Lands and Local Government that will provide young persons with the means to influence the decisions that impact their homes, schools and community.
“I can see from your attendance here today that you are ready to embrace what you will be taught about Local Government and its processes,” Mr Woodside said. “And, I am certain that you are eager to provide a youth perspective on issues that will be considered by your District Council and its Boards over the next 23 weeks.”
He also encouraged the students to participate fully in a series of weekly classes on Thursday afternoons from 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm.
“During these weekly classes you students will have your leadership skills further developed while learning about Local Government in the district where you live and your community by extension,” Mr Woodside said.
It is anticipated that in their capacity as Junior Councillors, the students would network with community leaders, meet with youth organizations and members from the community.
The program will also enhance their ability to assume leadership positions in their school and community, Mr Woodside noted.
“The Local Government Junior Council Program will provide you with the exceptional opportunity to experience your District and its quality of life. This is an opportunity that is not ordinarily available to many youth or adults.”
Mr Woodside explained that the project allows for the students to attend District Council and Boards meetings, to observe District operated facilities and services, and learn about the major characteristics unique to their district.
“In your networking with other Local Government Junior Councillors in the project districts, you would learn about those things that are common in the administration of Local Government in The Bahamas and share that which is special to the individual districts,” he said.
“The importance of Local Government in the developing countries can spur economic development, improve the quality of life for citizens and encourage citizen’s participating in the decision-making process of government.”
Mr Woodside said Local Government as an extension of Central Government has proven to be a boost to citizens’ confidence in government by allowing communities to govern their local affairs.
“This program aims to strengthen our Local Government District Councils by annually generating a cadre of young persons with increased capacity and skill-sets from various demographics that will potentially enter the pool of candidates for future Local Government elections in their districts,” he added.
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