Twenty five of Cayman Islands’ youth are once again in the thick of gearing up for conducting proceedings at the Legislative Assembly for a whole day this Commonwealth Day, Monday, 9 March 2020.
The 16 girls and nine boys represent Layman Scott High School on Cayman Brac, John Gray and Clifton Hunter government high schools, Triple C School, Wesleyan Christian Academy, St. Ignatius Catholic School, Grace Christian Academy, Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC) as well as the University College of the Cayman Islands.
Again this year, law firm Harneys have generously funded the Youth Parliament in their effort to promote young people’s education and engagement in civic matters in the Cayman Islands. Harney’s Partner Mr. Nick Hoffman handed over a cheque to the students during their preparatory meetings.
From October 2019, a month after their school term began, the students have been hard at work learning the ropes about all aspects of the Legislative Assembly. Notably these included proceedings that take place in the Chambers, getting expert lectures from Opposition Leader Hon. Arden McLean, Opposition MLA Mr. Ezzard Miller and First Legislative Counsel Ms Cheryl Neblett.
In addition to the over one dozen lectures, the participants also had a chance to sit in on an active Finance Committee sitting to understand yet another important aspect of government in action.
During the lectures, the prospective parliamentarians learnt about the roles of the Speaker, Clerk, Serjeant- at-Arms, the Premier and Ministers, Backbench and Opposition Members.
Additionally, they learnt about other House business including the purpose of Private Member Motions and how they are brought to the House; the types of Government Motions that are brought; the purpose of Parliamentary Questions and how bills are drafted, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Ms Zena Merren-Chin explained.
They also got tips and exercises for honing the all-important debating skills from representatives from the local Toastmaster’s Club, who were involved with the training of youth parliamentarians for the first time, along with representatives of the Truman Bodden Law School and the Cayman Islands Youth Assembly.
Once they had acquired the knowledge, the participants chose their roles as Government or Opposition members, positions they will take on in the Youth Parliament including Speaker, Premier, Clerk and Serjeant.
Next, they finalised their topics and worked on researching and drafting their speeches. “We provided them with resource persons from government departments and the private sector who are knowledgeable about the topics that are chosen,” the Clerk noted.
Throughout the process, the participants have been receiving advice and encouragement from the Youth Parliament Organising Committee, comprising MLA and Committee Chair, Ms Barbara Conolly, MLAs Mr. David Wight, Mr. Alva Suckoo, Mr. Kenneth Bryan and Mr. Bernie Bush.
“We are looking forward to another scintillating morning of debates and cogent views from our youth parliamentarians on meaningful topics chosen by them on this Commonwealth Day,” Committee Chair Ms Conolly commented. “The event has now become a much anticipated activity in our legislative calendar over the years.”