Georgetown, Guyana – (September 03, 2015) World renowned Guyanese diplomat, Sir Shridath Ramphal has issued a call for Guyanese politicians to take greater responsibility in promoting and ensuring social cohesion in the country.
The call was issued this morning at the opening ceremony of the Social Cohesion Round-table, which was held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, Lilliendaal.
“Political leaders have a particular responsibility to inspire; motivate and encourage Guyanese people to ensure that they are one nation, one people with one destiny,” Sir Shridath told the gathering.
According to Sir Shridath, the need for national unity in Guyana is not a new one but rather, has been pursued for years with no great success. He, however, noted that most recently, this has been changing and it is his hope that the change continues.
“While Guyana has not attained the aspirations of our motto, the shared heritage has trumped the divisiveness of the history of slavery and indentureship and there has emerged, albeit admittedly too slowly, a mutli-racial society, in which the oneness of being Guyanese is gradually prevailing over the separateness of the past. Guyana has to ensure that the light not tainted by the past, continues to shine,” the respected diplomat said.
He noted that while past leaders led the separation and segregation in the country, it is now the responsibility of all Guyanese to ensure that this does not persist.
“The colonisers imposed on Guyana; a policy of racial division, as an instrument of control. Some of the leaders that replaced them adopted the same measures for their own intents. A few even proposed partition. All this has left this country as one nation in name and one people except in politics. All Guyanese must summon the joint history of struggle to inform the joint future of prosperity, to which they aspire,” he said.
He pointed out that for far too long, the political atmosphere here has been stifling the country and it is time that this be brought to an end. It was on this note that he applauded the move by President David Granger to engage the Opposition for inclusive governance to be truly achieved.
“In the context of social cohesion, we must all consider the impact of our decisions on at least the next generation. The political class must consider the impact of its daily decisions on social cohesion looking beyond elections,” Sir Ramphal said.
The call for politicians to take greater responsibility in the promotion of social cohesion was followed by the recommendation for the introduction of Civics, as a core subject in the school system, so that social cohesion can be better fostered.
Sir Ramphal recommended that the government introduce a Civics course, from the primary to the tertiary level of the education system so that a greater sense of tolerance and respect for differences can become a reality.
The aim, he said, should be to provide all pupils receiving a primary education with a broad knowledge and appreciation of the historical Constitutional basis of the State, of the administrative and political functions of the racial, cultural and other elements of society and the rights and responsibilities of citizens with due emphasis on tolerance and respect for cooperation.
“Differences should be taught and seen as enriching rather than as a divisive,” he reasoned.
In the meantime, participants of the workshop were all in praise for the initiative noting that it is timely and the beginning of a new Guyana.
Morris Butters, a representative from the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), said that he was particularly pleased that such a step has been taken by the government.
“The Union has established a Race Relations Committee, where we dealt with race matters across our sector. We had organised workshops and seminars and now the government has taken the bold step of creating a Ministry of Social Cohesion. These activities are being done on a national level and so I think it is only fair that the Union embrace this move and be a part of this process. I think we can achieve what we are setting out to achieve,” Butters related.
Donna Scott, a member of the Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO), also had praise for the forum organised by the Ministry of Social Cohesion. “This forum produced a lot of thoughts and ideas and suggestions, which I believe we can use to put into practice for a better Guyana. I really believe that it is going to be a successful initiative,” Scott said.
The sessions will continue tomorrow where the final document for the 5 year strategic plan will be crafted for implementation.