President David Granger: Thank you Master of Ceremonies. Toshao of the village, Mr. James Schaddle, thank you for this very warm welcome, if it was any warmer I think we would all be roasting, but it is a pleasure. It is a joy to be in your community of Tapakuma and I’m very happy to be here with our Ministers: Amna Ally, Nicolette Henry and Sydney Allicock, so thank you for having us in your village today.
Honourable Amna Ally, Minister of Social Cohesion; Honourable Sydney Allicock, Vice President and Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs; Honourable Nicolette Henry, Minister within the Ministry of Education; Mr. Rupert Hopkinson, Regional Executive Officer of the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region; Ms. Baramdai Seepersaud, Regional Education Officer; representatives of Innovative Mining Incorporated; boys and girls; residents of Tapakuma community:
As I said before, I am happy to be here and I want to let you know that this entire programme of buses and boats and bicycles came out of the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region. It was during my visit to this very region that residents of the Pomeroon River told me how expensive it was for their children to attend Charity Secondary School and everywhere I went, I always remember the words the man who first told me that; he is right here, his name is Garraway – he’s sitting down there laughing – and of course Ms. Doreen Duncan.
These are stalwarts who called our attention to the needs of children in this region and we answered that call, but the call came from you; it didn’t drop from the sky. You know there is a saying that “The best time to influence the character of a child is a hundred years ago”. It sounds like something strange to say, but what we are saying is if your parents had this opportunity, if your grandparents had this opportunity, you would be better off and now you have the opportunity as children in Tapakuma, in this great region, and what you see here is not going to last for one year, but it is going to help to give you an education and you will insist that your own children get the benefit of a good education.
So I am glad to be back in Pomeroon-Supenaam because you give me the idea for those ‘Five Bs’. So, let us preserve this bus as Minster Amna Ally said, but let your children and grandchildren know that you were given assistance, you were given help, encouragement to go to school and stay in school and they too must do like you. So there will be many more buses and those of you who have come from the coast, I want you to know that the coast will get buses too – thank you for hearing me Innovative Mining. [Applause.]
But we are here for very serious business and I want you to understand that this government is not a Georgetown Government, it is not a Coastland Government, it is not an Amerindian Government or an African Government or an Indian Government; this is a National Government and where ever the needs exist we are going to respond to those needs.
In May when I was inaugurated I said I am President for all Guyana and I will go where our residents are. If they are in Akawini, if they are in Aranaputa or Achiwuib or Aishalton, if they are in Orealla, they are going to see President David Granger. Children, today is your day. I just want to leave a few words with you because I know it is close to lunch time and it is dangerous to talk too long when children are hungry. But first of all, this bus is about education and if you learn nothing else from me, nothing else from the Coalition Administration, it is our concern about education.
I’m not happy with the state of education in Guyana. It is not something that I blame our Government for or even the past Government for. I don’t blame you or your parents, but there is a problem and my job is to solve problems and you know very well, particularly, in the hinterland, more than half of our children fail all four subjects at the National Grade Six Assessment and in the hinterland it is worst.
Sometimes in these communities 70 or 80 or 90% of the children fail science, or fail English or fail mathematics. They don fail because they are ‘stupidy’ they fail because they don’t get the opportunity to go to school. I know that in this country there are 4000 dropouts every year from primary and secondary schools. I am not happy that children drop out of school. So what we want to do with this bus is make sure that children can get to school. What we want to do with this bus is to make sure that ‘ECIS’- Every Child in School. Nine o’clock in the morning, ten ’clock in the morning, children shouldn’t be in the village, children shouldn’t be swimming and picking fruit – keep that for August – once school has started your Government will do everything possible to get those children to school – to get you to school. We don’t have a lot of money, we are not rich, but luckily we have friends like Innovative; we have friends who understand the importance that we place on education.
So these are people who help us to help you but we want you, the children, to want to go to school. We want you, the parents and the teachers to do everything possible to get children to school every day. If there are problems with bikes or boats or buses let us know and we will try to help you, but you must make a vow; make a pledge; you must look at your children and promise them, I will make sure that you go to school every day. Without education you cannot progress in this world today; if you can’t even spell bus, who is going to employ you? If you can’t spell boat, who is going to employ you?
You have to go to school if you are to provide for yourselves the opportunity to have that good life. So don’t be envious of the children you see skulking and playing around, if you are to have that good life; to get a good job, good employment to look after your wife and children, you have to start with a good education by going to school. So that is the first thing I want you to remember whether you are a parent or teacher or pupil, that is that every single Guyanese child must go to school.
That second thing I want to remind you about is employment- jobs. You go to Charity, you go to Supenaam, you go to Danielstown, you go anywhere in this great region; you come to Tapakuma, go to Mainstay, you see young men and women, some of them are not working; why are they not working? Nobody wants to employ them. Why nobody wants to employ them? Because they can’t spell, they can’t write, they can’t read – it is a big problem that is why I insist that if you want ever to have a good job in life you have to start off with good education and that education will open the doors to employment because once you are educated you don’t even have to look for a job, you will be able to employ yourselves and this is a region that is crying out for self-employment.
So the second thing I want to leave with you is the necessity to work and for you to work, for you to get a good job you must be educated. You must be able to go on the internet to see how to produce certain crops and commodities. You must be able to read books. You must be able to go to training sessions and learn about ways and means of employing yourselves and in this way you will be able to get out of this syndrome of turning to the Government and asking for ‘lil wuk’ because you yourselves will be able to provide employment for yourselves and your children.
The third thing I would like to leave with you Tapakuma is the state of the economy. Economy is not a word for the Government or a word for the Chief of Commerce or a word for the big industrialists; all of us have to participate in the economy. All of us have to have budgets at home, how you eat, what you spend on clothing, what you spend on your house – all of these things depend on the state of the economy and the state of your own participation in the economy and if the economy of Pomeroon-Supenaam Region Two is thriving, you all will thrive. If the economy is faltering we all will suffer, but you here in Pomeroon-Supenaam you are the rice bowl of Guyana.
Just drive through this region; rice fields to the left, rice fields to the right, even in the villages you can produce pineapples, pineapples galore. You can produce fruit; all of those pineapples could be canned and exported. All of those fruits could be used to make fruit juice, which can be canned and exported. The fish in the river could be dried and exported. Every single thing you produce can bring you income, food doesn’t have to spoil. Very often when you go up the river people say ‘oh, they stop producing this or they stop producing that because nobody coming to buy’. Well the answer is not to sit on your hands the answer is to do what the industrialised countries have done; if you grow cassava make cassava chips, if you grow plantain make plantain chips. All you need to do is have a little cassava mill costing $600,000. All you have to do is have some sealing machines, some little bottling machine, some little packaging machine- anything you produce; any guava: guava cheese, guava jam, guava jelly could be sold to our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean.
This is a beautiful country, a blessed country. In July I went over to Suriname, I told the President of Suriname that Guyana and Suriname together have more land space than Germany. Region One Barima-Waini is four times the size of Trinidad and Tobago. This region is a big region and you can produce all the commodities, but to do that you need to have some education as to how to preserve these fruit and vegetables.
You need to be able to access the internet so you know what the hotel managers in Trinidad and Barbados and Grenada are calling for and you can produce these commodities for export. So you must be able to become businessmen, entrepreneurs. So when we speak of this bus, don’t just speak of 2016 and an opportunity to go to school and come back. When I see somebody who is ten years, I see 20 or 30 years along the line, till you are 50, old like me, 50-plus.
So today is a very special day for Tapakuma and for Region Two. Today we are opening a chapter in the life of hundreds of children who will be using this bus. Since this programme started on the 15th July last year we have now [provided] 13 buses, over 10 boats, over 500 bicycles and we are going to continue helping people who want to help themselves by ensuring that they can all get to school. [Applause.]
So parents, teachers, children of Tapakuma I just want to leave with you these three ‘Es’: one is the importance of education and I ask you to commit yourselves to ensuring that your children all go to school every single day.
Secondly, employment – the importance of jobs; do not always look to the Government. We will help you, we’re not going to let you down, but we want you to understand that you can employ yourselves. The richest persons are not civil servants or police or soldiers, the richest people are those who employ themselves and use their expertise to become entrepreneurs. And we want you to build a strong economy in Region Two because once you have a strong economy, a vibrant economy, a healthy economy, people are going to bring investments into these regions and this year our Government has created three new towns for the first time in 45 years.
Anna Regina is lucky having been established several decades ago, but Mabaruma, the capital of Region One is now a town; Bartica the capital of Region Seven is now a town and Lethem the capital of Region Nine – a region bigger that Costa Rica – is now a town. Mahdia will be our next town. But East-Berbice-Corentyne already has three towns there is no reason why more towns cannot be created in the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region at Charity and elsewhere.
These are not ornaments; these are communities where our population can congregate, where schools can be built, manufacturing industries, where ports could be opened to export commodities to the Caribbean. So today is the first day of your lives committed to education, committed to entrepreneurship, committed to employment and the development of your region.
I congratulate again the donors. I thank your teachers and your parents and I pledge on behalf of the Government of Guyana to continue to do everything possible to give you that good life right here in Region Two.
May God bless you all!
Thank you.

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