Socio Political and Economic Situation of Youth in Antigua and Barbuda Essay

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Antigua

Socio-Political and Economic Situation of Youth in Antigua and Barbuda: An Examination of Literature and Statistics

The following situational analysis examines the issues related to youths in Antigua and Barbuda from economic and sociopolitical perspectives, identifying risks and opportunities that currently face this population of minors. Background information on the island nation is given, with current economic dependence on tourism and high levels of unemployment the most salient features in regards to the issue at hand. A brief methodological description of the review process used in this research is given followed by a summary of the findings. Antigua and Barbuda, despite having a relatively strong economy and social structure compared to other Caribbean and Latin American nations, still faces certain issues when it comes to meeting the needs of the more than fifty-percent of its youths that live in poverty. Recommendations for expansions of government and non-governmental programs meant to promote food and shelter security for children are given, and concluding remarks attempt to situate the problems of the youths in Antigua and Barbuda in a larger global context.

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TOPIC: Essay on Socio Political and Economic Situation of Youth in Antigua and Barbuda Assignment

First utilized by the British as a naval stations, the somewhat protected and usually mild-weathered island of Antigua is now one of the top tourist destinations in the Caribbean (Antigua-Barbuda.org, 2012). The nation now includes the nearby island of Barbuda as well, which has been home to more shipwrecks than ships, but this much smaller island is less significant in terms of the socioeconomic factors affecting the country (Antigua-Barbuda.org, 2012; CIA, 2012). A quarter of the population of the islands is under the age of fifteen, yet unemployment already stands at twenty percent and will only worsen as today's children begin seeking jobs (CIA, 2012). Tourism makes up at least sixty-percent of the nation's economy by direct measures, with agriculture producing only two percent of GDP and industry making up approximately twenty percent, with the remaining seventy-eight percent of the economy made up of service jobs, all of which add up to an average per-capita GDP of just over $17,000 but with many jobs paying significantly less (CIA, 2012). Though the nation is still a popular destination, it received a major financial blow from the recent global recession and is still struggling to recover (Antigua-Barbuda.org, 2012; CIA, 2012).

Goals & Objectives

The goal of this situational analysis is to lead to Recommendations as to how the lives and situations of children in Antigua and Barbuda can be improved through an improvement in their socioeconomic status. Specific research objectives that help to support this goal include an identification of current issues facing children in Antigua and Barbuda that are significantly different from issues faced by similar populations, an identification of problems impacting the health and the direct well-being of children in the country, and an identification of issues impacting educational attainment and thus future job prospects and other opportunities. It is assumed due to the nation's overall economic status that children will be seen as a disadvantaged group in need of some form(s) of international assistance; this analysis will briefly outline these needs and provide recommendations for meeting them.

Methodology

As the practicalities of conducting primary research are beyond the capabilities of current resources, the methodology employed for this situational analysis will consist of a review of currently available research and governmental/NGO reports regarding the safety, health, and overall situation of children in Antigua and Barbuda. Given the limited scope of the research goals and objectives, in-depth reviews of empirical data and primary research are not deemed to be necessary as governmental and NGP data and prepared reports are likely to be more accurate and more comprehensive than individual pieces of academia-driven research. The use of several different sources to provide an assessment of both the risks and the opportunities that currently face the children of Antigua and Barbuda will ensure objectivity and accuracy, with further research possible should any significant discrepancies in the reports examined be found. This type of secondary analysis or (brief) literature review is well-established as an investigative and an informative tool, and should have strong credence with researchers and other parties interested in the welfare of the nation's children.

Summary of Findings

Just over half of the children living in Antigua and Barbuda are living in poverty, though this figure could change as new standards for measuring poverty that were recently established by the United Nations to specifically assess children in the Caribbean are applied more consistently (Foundation for the Development of Caribbean Children, 2012; Antigua Observer, 2012). Currently, the government's resources are stretched quite thin and while some assistance in the form of preschooling and food dispersals are available for impoverished children this assistance is incredibly limited and not at all adequate to meet the growing needs of children and their families (FDCC, 2012). Economic trends in the larger population also necessarily affect children, including the unemployment rate that stands near twenty percent and that contributed to many families' impoverishment (CIA, 2012; Antigua Observer, 2012). The children affected by poverty have very mixed perceptions of how poverty is created and the effects it has and even how it is defined, with many children assuming they are not poor because they are not as frequently hungry as they once were or because they are able to attend school (Kairi Consultants & National Assessment Team of Antigua and Barbuda, 2007). Economic disadvantage is not seen as a significant social disadvantage by children, then, but often can be regardless of their perceptions.

Economic status also influences socio-political status, of course, though in this regard the government and non-governmental organizations in Antigua and Barbuda have made significant strides in achieving greater equality. Educational efforts on the islands have been quite strong and child literacy rates are above 99%, in keeping with the top countries in the world (though adult literacy rates lag somewhat) (CIA, 2012; FDCC, 2012). The National Youth Program (n.d.) also outlines concrete goals and plans for the development and protection of Antigua and Barbuda's children, ranging from educational assurances to broader issues of social development and contextualizing children's rights. This is in keeping with the changed poverty measurements established by the United Nations mentioned above; an increasing focus on rights-based definitions of poverty is already helping to determine children and families that are at risk for de facto rights denials based on financial hardships that prevent equal opportunities and access (Antigua Observer, 2012). Minors have little socio-political power in any setting, of course, but children are a matter of increasing policy importance in Antigua and Barbuda by all accounts.

Key factors affecting the ability for youths in Antigua and Barbuda to achieve their full potential are identified as access to appropriate nutrition and consistent access to adequate clothing and shelter. The first of these factors is the most pressing in terms of the number of children/youths affected and the extremity of the situation, though it is not especially dire and under nutrition is more the focus than starvation and basic survival. Clothing and shelter access present fewer problems, though there are youths disrupted by repeated moves that cause insecurity in both shelters and possessions including clothing. Education is also a key factor influencing opportunities, however in this area Antigua and Barbuda have made great strides and have succeeded in serving the needs of the vast majority if not the totality of the youth population in the nation.

Recommendations

In light of the research findings, it is recommended that more extensive nutritional and clothing programs be developed to ensure that the children of Antigua and Barbuda are receiving the essentials they need to properly develop in a safe and secure environment. Homelessness was not identified as a substantial problem but can still occur, and housing assistance programs would also help to achieve greater equality, as well. The school and educational programs in the small island nation appear to be quite successful, and it is possible that an expansion or simple utilization of these programs could result in an efficient way to collect and/or distribute various food and clothing items through both governmental and charitable funding. This would also serve to cement the already-established social structure enjoyed by children and their families that appears to center around educational opportunities, and would allow for ongoing monitoring of program success by teachers and administrators that regularly encounter at risk students. Continued research to determine what effects are had by any program changes or additions would also be recommended.

Youth Development

The National Youth Plan (n.d.) contains extensive plans for "positive youth development," broken down into four primary spheres of influence over the nation's children: family, peers, school/workplace, and community. This plan is quite comprehensive and detailed, and through the nation's educational programs hopes to ensure that all youths develop not only productive work habits and a desire to learn, but appropriate social skills and coping skills, healthy ways of using their leisure time, the formation of positive peer support networks, and internal self-confidence (National Youth plan, n.d.). The nation's… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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