…programme challenged with late stipends, inadequate materialsFollowing nine months of vocational training through the Citizen Security Strengthening Skills programme, 50 youths, drawn from communities such as Albouystown, South and North Ruimveldt, Sophia, Haslington, Enmore and Buxton, are now equipped with the necessary prerequisites to better their lives.Valedictorian Joel Primo receiving one of his prizes from Public Security Minister Khemraj RamjattanAs part of the course, facilitators were assigned to guide the youths in six fields; namely: masonry, information technology and business, welding, plumbing, air conditioning and refrigeration, and catering.Many youths had started the programme, but only 18 males and 32 females successfully completed the training.Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan has said the training helped to create responsible citizens who can make lifelong earnings and, more so, contribute to society. The main focus of the youths’ training was to eliminate the plaguing increase of criminal activities in the various areas from which they were drawn.“It is the completion of a milestone, and (their) taking one step closer towards becoming responsible citizens, employees and entrepreneurs. The programme had to do with a reduction in crime and a reduction of youth violence”, Ramjattan expressed.Participants who recently completed the training programmeHe added that the programme guarantees a reduction of violence among our young people, even as he explained that this approach is used by many Caribbean countries, and positive responses have been recorded. The youths in Guyana who participated in the programme were also offered tutoring in Mathematics and English.Ezraleen Mc Lean of the Sophia Training Centre, who was responsible for some of the programme’s activities, highlighted some challenges the programme had faced over the nine months of its existence, including stipends for the trainees arriving late and materials for the projects being in inadequate supply. Some participants had also failed to comply with the dress code, among other requirements.“We have encountered our fair share of challenges during the period under review. Some of these are late payments of stipend, late and inadequate supply of training materials, lateness, failure to comply with our dress code, absenteeism due to economic situation at home, students’ low academic level, no entrepreneurship instructor, late payment of staff members, and lack of involvement of community action officers,” she listed.Valedictorian of the programme is Joel Primo. Osafa Browne has been declared the second best graduating student. Others recognised were as follows: Alana Argyle, best graduate of the catering class; Jolana Callender, best graduate for information technology; Nkala Gordon, same for masonry; Joel Primo, same for plumbing; Osafa Browne, same for refrigeration; and Fay Robinson, same for welding.This initiative was launched in 2016 with US$15 million funding from the Inter-American Development Bank. Going forward, the Ministry will supply finances for its continuation.