It is a pleasure to be here today representing the U.S. Government at the formal close out of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Skills and Knowledge for Youth Employment, also known as the SKYE project. As you have heard, since its inception in 2011, SKYE has achieved important results and successfully supported other youth development initiatives undertaken by the Government of Guyana and development partners.
SKYE worked extensively with the private sector, government, and NGO community to improve and expand training and life skills education for over 2,200 youth. The delivery of appropriate curricula positively impacted youth and helped them to transition successfully to adulthood and lead more productive lives. More than 1,000 of these youth are now linked to full-time employment. Over 300 young men and women received entrepreneurship training, and 160 received grants and started micro-businesses. More than 230 youth received primary-level literacy training, greatly expanding their employment opportunities.
SKYE also collaborated with the Judiciary probation department, and local organizations to expand the use of alternative sentencing and other diversionary tactics to ensure that 123 youth who committed minor offences received rehabilitation services outside a detention or penal facility. This work provided valuable lessons and creative options. We are heartened by the Government’s desire to modernize the juvenile justice system in Guyana, and I hope that, while the new juvenile justice legislation is reviewed, finalized, and eventually operationalized, the lessons learned through the SKYE project are carefully considered to build a less punitive juvenile justice system.
The SKYE project worked closely with Guyana’s New Opportunity Corps (NOC) and encouraged an assets-based approach to youth, focusing on youth attributes to foster their self-improvement. SKYE placed a psychologist at the NOC facility to compliment the assets-based work and to provide specialist evaluations and counselling. I am pleased that the Ministry of Education is taking steps to integrate the psychologist position into its staffing structure and other lessons learned from the project at the NOC to continue delivering benefits to the youth after the SKYE project ends.
SKYE created opportunities for those who needed them most. The project also created effective partnerships to support the sustainability of the achievements. I would like to acknowledge and thank those partners in the government, the private sector, and the NGO community for providing your insight, creativity, and guidance throughout the project’s implementation. These partnerships will serve as the cornerstone of our development work as we, together, initiate new programs going forward.
I would also like to recognize the dedication of the staff members who worked tirelessly on the SKYE project team. Thank you for your commitment to the project’s success and for changing the lives of numerous Guyanese youth. You created valuable examples for youth development work focused on underserved, at-risk populations.
In closing, as we celebrate SKYE’s accomplishments, the United States Government remains committed to improving citizens’ security and supporting youth development in Guyana in creative and impactful ways. We look forward to continuing this important work and thank you all for participating in today’s event.
Thank you and have a good night.