Georgetown, Guyana, (March 5, 2016) President David Granger said that education is the foundation of equality and that next to food, clothing and shelter, education is best thing anyone can offer to a child. The Head of State made these remarks at a public meeting at Third Avenue Bartica where he handed over 30 bicycles and commissioned another 50-seater bus that was donated to his ‘Five Bs’ (boats, bicycles, buses, books and breakfast) programme.
The bicycles that were handed over today were donated by Denar Trading, while the bus was donated by Mr. Nizam Kassim. It will benefit children attending school as far as 5 Miles in Bartica.
The Head of State was accompanied at the commissioning and handing over ceremony by Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, Minister of Social Cohesion, Ms. Amna Ally, Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Raphael Trotman, Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton and Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Ms. Dawn Hastings.
“One of the reasons there is so much poverty is because there is so much inequality. Once the child of a rich man and the child of a poor man have the same education, they then have a chance to be equal and with that equality you have a better opportunity at employment,” President Granger said.
The Head of State recalled travelling around the country and seeing children in hinterland communities, who have to walk for miles to get to a school, while others have to paddle a canoe for hours. Children on the coast, too, encounter challenges, paying thousands of dollars in transportation alone.
President Granger emphasised that if these social and economic disparities are to be reduced then investment in education must be a priority.
“A lot of what divides our society is education [access related]. Some people just don’t get a break because they haven’t completed their schooling… Guyana must not be divided by the Essequibo River. We must not have a developed Guyana east of the Essequibo and underdeveloped Guyana west of the Essequibo,” President Granger said.
Minister Ally, who has been instrumental in garnering the support of the business community for the ‘Five Bs’ programme, said that the Government is keen on reducing the alarmingly high school dropout rate and improving academic performance and added that a special debt of gratitude is owed to the donors.
She explained too that through the Ministry of Education, an evaluation will be done to quantify the level of improvement that this intervention has accrued and identify areas where the programmme could be further enhanced to yield even better results.
“This is not a handout. It is an effort to improve human capital… Children today require more than uniforms to attend school. They need the complete package and transportation is a big part of that package,” the Minister sad.
Meanwhile, President Granger maintained that education can ignite the spirit of enterprise in young people across Guyana placing education equality as the foundation of community enrichment and development.
The President pointed out that while education is a means to employment, if everyone choses to seek employment in the public sector, rather than harness their entrepreneurial potential, then growth and development will move at a very slow pace.
“You, the ordinary residents of this town must be able to embark on private enterprise without hoping to become a police or a soldier or a civil servant… By becoming entrepreneurs; opening little factories, little plants and exporting, you can make yourself rich,” the President said.
Many communities also suffer developmental setbacks as a result of poorly managed local authority organs. President Granger said that the fight for the return of Local Government Elections (LGEs), after its absence for more than two decades, was a long and arduous one. These elections will be held on March 18 and the President assured that never again, under his administration will communities be disempowered by its absence.
“You are being empowered for the first time in a quarter of a century by an APNU+AFC Coalition. You are going to go out there and vote for the person of your choice and that is empowerment and if after three years thy don’t perform, we move them and put someone else… They have to account to you,” the Head of State said.
President Granger iterated that installation of Interim Management Committees (IMCs) will become a thing of the past. “We are here of facilitate democracy, not frustrate democracy,” the President said.
Minister Harmon told the residents that he was proud to be part of the vision that President Granger has for Bartica and the region of Cuyuni-Mazaruni and noted that as part of that vision, the Government recognised the importance of strengthening security. The Minister pointed out that because of this, the Commander of the ‘F’ Division of the Guyana Police force is now based in Bartica.
He said, “Police deployment must reflect the nature of the community they serve… every service provided to the people of Guyana must be provided equally and we must accept nothing less.”
Minister Trotman, in his remarks, used the opportunity to inform Barticians of some of the planned projects that are in the pipeline for the development of Cuyuni-Mazaruni, Region 7.
These projects include: roads from Parika to Goshen and from Bartica to Mahdia, a new stelling and vending area, a municipal airport and enhanced electricity generating capacity. “I believe in the President’s vision that Bartica could be the frontier of the hinterland,” Minister Trotman said.
Meanwhile, Minister Norton spoke of the improvements in the Region’s healthcare system over the past nine months. He informed that from just two doctors, the Region now has a total of 16, eight of whom are specialists in gynecology, anesthesiology, cardiology and dermatology. There is also a pediatrician and a nose, ears and throat specialist.
Doctors have been posted in outlying communities such as Kamarang, Issanu and Waramadong. Additionally, the Region will have its own blood bank for which a refrigeration system has already been procured.
Minister Dawn Hastings also reminded citizens of the importance of voting for their own representatives at the soon to be held local government elections so as to ensure that their concerns are addressed in a timely and satisfactory manner.
Demerara-Mahaica (Region Four) will be the next region to benefit under the ‘5 Bs’ programme. So far nine buses, six boats and more than 300 bicycles have been donated across the country.