The OPO believes that every citizen has the responsibility to participate in the building of a free and just society, rooted in the central and uninfringeable dignity of a person. The youth, as part of the citizenry, must have a voice in decisions that affect them and as they become stakeholders and change agents in their communities and organizations, they bring perspectives, knowledge and relationships that lead to better decisions and more productive action.
Jamaica has a wealth of social and national organisations dedicated to promoting youth interests. These organizations form a network of knowledge sharing and learning. It is through youth engagement that the skills of active citizenship that contributes positively to the strengthening of society are taught.
The Political Awareness and Respect Initiative (PARI), is a key element of the Office of the Political Ombudsman’s (OPO) public outreach campaign, and comprises a team of young people who have agreed to collaborate with the OPO in undertaking to engage with their peers to work towards strengthening Jamaica’s democratic architecture, as well as to get them to speak on issues around politics, democracy, good governance and the Rule of Law.
Among the fundamental expectations of the collaboration are:
- An increased public awareness of the Office of the Political Ombudsman and its mandate.
- Building and strengthening partnerships with other youth organizations, national groups and informal associations.
- Promoting youth participation in governance
PARI was developed jointly by the OPO and key youth leaders following consultations since 2016. PARI members were selected from social and national groups the three counties of the island, Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey. These groups included the National Youth Parliament of Jamaica (NYPJ), National Youth Council of Jamaica (NYCJ) and the Student Unions from numerous Universities. The main criteria in considering eligibility for membership is age. A potential member must be between the ages of 17years to 30 years.
In March 2020 the group met and established Rules of Engagement, Expectations and Key Strategies for advancement.
Rules of Engagement
The following were agreed on:
- Meetings to be held once monthly
- A Whatsapp group created to facilitate communication outside of meeting times.
- Correspondences to be sent via email following notices in the Whatsapp group.
- To actively engage with the various social media platforms and website of the OPO.
- A 4 week listening tour (face-to-face and on social media platforms), to ascertain the needs and interests of target audiences;
- An outreach program focused on soft-selling key messages about democracy through group engagement (Quizzes and Sketches)
- Training for PARI leaders on effective presentation skills, active listening and reporting.
- To strengthen partnership between the Office of the Political Ombudsman and the Commonwealth Secretariat
- Engage in strengthening democracy
- Assist youths in learning to build up institutions