New Youth Centers at Gwen Liz and Youth Hostel Print E-mail
( 2 Votes )
Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 10 October 2013 00:00

Hon. Anthony Martinez signs contracts and Artist rendition of the Youth Center at Gwen LizHon. Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation signed contracts with Usher Constructions and BAE Constructions on Wednesday, October 10th, for the construction of resource centers to be located on the Gwen Lizarraga High School compound and  the Youth Hostel Compound.

These contracts amount to $3,298,307.70 and were awarded based on the Inter-American Development Bank’s tendering procedure for Belize. Six bids were submitted for the contract to construct the youth center on the Gwen Liz compound and four bids were submitted for the construction of a resource/visitor’s center at Youth Hostel, a new girls’ dormitory plus the rehabilitation of the sporting grounds. At the end of the procurement process, Usher Construction was awarded the contract for the center at Gwen Liz at a cost of $1,522,049.70 and BAE Construction was awarded the contract for the Youth Hostel project at a cost of $1,743,258. Both projects are expected to be completed twelve months after commencement.

The projects are being made possible through a $10 million loan agreement between the Government of Belize and the Inter-American Development Bank for the Community Action for Public Safety (CAPS) Project. Project Coordinator, Elvis Requena, explained that CAPS’ overarching objective is to contribute to the reduction of youth involvement in major violent crime in Belize City. There are three components to the project with the ultimate goals of reducing youth involvement in criminal activities and violent behavior in the schools which are beneficiary of the program’s resources; reducing recidivism among youth in the intervened juvenile rehabilitation institutions and enhancing  government’s capacity to formulate and implement evidence-based policies on public safety.

The three components are investments in School-based Positive Youth Development, Support for Juvenile Social Rehabilitation and the implementation of an Interagency Public Safety Management Information System (IPSMIS). To promote positive school based youth development, over $4 million will be spent on infrastructure and programs with specific schools in which students, youths and parents from the neighbourhood will be engaged in class and extracurricular activities. Academic tutoring will be provided for students in need of assistance and special emphasis will be made on enrollment in second chance education programs for those who drop out of school. There will also be the administering of tests to measure the “cognitive ability and personality traits of young people to provide teachers, tutors, mentors and coaches with information on the beneficiaries of the intervention”. These activities will take place at the youth centers. In an effort to support Juvenile Social Rehabilitation, $3.8 million will be spent to improve the prospect of success for at-risk youth and juvenile offenders who have been reintegrated into society. Programs will be implemented at the rehabilitation institutions to address violent attitudes and improve basic and vocational education levels among residents. IPSMIS will be implemented at a cost of $1.2 million to gather, share, and analyse information to promote coordination among rehabilitation institutions in an effort to formulate better management strategies and violence reduction programs.

Minister Martinez said, “I am so proud to see that the marginalized will benefit from these infrastructural and technical investments.” He continued, “In the face of the current Social Investment Fund scandal it was important for him that there be a public contract signing and explanation of the tendering process.” To the contractors he said, “We expect to get fair work for fair money. If you are holding up then we will cancel the contracts.” Minister of Education, Hon. Patrick Faber, pointed out that CAPS was another multi-ministerial initiative as Government continues to address the issue of crime and violence in Belize City in a multifaceted approach. He points to second chance education programs, skills training opportunities and job creating projects among other initiatives that have resulted in crime being at its lowest level in Belize City in over a decade. He says we must continue to engage our youths in positive activities.