The second session of this year’s Youth Parliament continued on Saturday within the Chambers of the National Assembly, where participants were given a charge by the Speaker, Dr Barton Scotland to exercise good leadership qualities.This is the fifth annual Youth Parliament – featuring students from secondary schools, New Opportunity Corps and the University of Guyana – with the students assuming the roles of officials from the highest decision-making body of the country.Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton ScotlandProcedures commenced with the youths, some of whom were visibly nervous, as their mentors peered on from the sidelines. Some were placed as Government MPs, while others situated antithetical as the parliamentary Opposition.The Speaker sought the opportunity to remind this year’s participants that decisions of the House affect the entire country. As such, the wellbeing of all Guyanese must be accounted for when advocating for passage of the respective bills.Nevertheless, he also posited that citizens have a right to be involved in the decision-making procedures and to be aware of current matters in their country. It is in this effect that the Youth Parliament programme was established to sensitise the younger population.“I think many persons see Parliament that is different from the rest of the country but in fact, what happens here affects the whole country. Many people either stay away either because they feel that it does not concern them or they can’t become involved in it…Parliament carries out the business of the country, which includes you and me. You have a right to take an interest,” Dr Scotland remarked.Throughout the programme, a detailed guideline will be provided on how parliamentary procedures are undertaken, the passage of bills and motions, and most importantly, the role of Members of Parliament (MPs).Dr Scotland reminded that topics debated this year are trending issues in Guyana and the input of the young minds is crucial.He said to the participants, “The topics which will be debated this year are topics which will enable you to express a view on current issues because that is what we hope always; to keep you fixed and focused on current issues. You will find that the subjects which are to be debated are subjects which are of interest now.”Debates will surround the sovereign wealth fund, migration policy, single-use plastics, amendments of the Constitution and copyright law.Meanwhile, the Speaker also took the opportunity to encourage the young minds to continue striving after failures.“The fact that we fall short of what we should do, does not mean that we should stop doing what us right. What will happen after many tries is that you succeed and you’ll be surprised at yourself.”Until its conclusion on August 17, these young participants will be mentored by a few former youth parliamentarians to develop their leadership qualities. Apart from two days of intense debates, they will be given a chance to visit public buildings and learn the ropes of public speaking. While prizes will be awarded to students, special recognition will be given to the best debater.