Former Legislator & Deputy Premier, Dr Kedrick D. Pickering says a stronger public-private partnership is needed to encourage youths to return to the Virgin Islands (VI) and the Church after studying abroad.
Dr Pickering made the remarks on November 16, 2022, during an election campaign rally while addressing the people of North Sound on Virgin Gorda.
Remarking that it was “time to reset”, the former legislator said recently he was having a discussion with a pastor from the VG community and one of the issues they lamented on, was that the local church is suffering over the loss of youths in the congregation.
He said this situation is not unique to North Sound, as young people are leaving the church all across the VI. The former legislator used the Long Look community on Tortola as an example, “The young people are not coming to church, they are dropping out,” he said.
Dr Pickering pointed out that the VI must
therefore create an environment that would encourage youths to not only
return to the territory and church but to build a family.
Youths not returning after studies - Dr Pickering.
Dr Pickering said one of the reasons for this is that youths are leaving to study abroad and not returning, “We are losing a lot of our young people because they are going away to study and they are not coming back, that is not good for us,” he added.
“We have got to find ways to ensure that when our young people finish school, we educate them, we go out of our way to send them to college to get an education… and not benefiting from them. We want to benefit from them!” he said.
Dr Pickering pointed out that persons must therefore create an environment that would encourage youths to not only return to the territory and the church, but to also build a family in the VI.
According to him, one of the ways to do this is to build a better public-private partnership, “We have some of the wealthiest people around us here [North Sound and Virgin Gorda] we must engage them in ideas on how best to create opportunities,” he said.