President David Granger: Thank you for that spectacular and rousing welcome as I came through the gate. Vice President Sydney Allicock; Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder, Minister of Communities; Regional Chairman; Mayor of Mabaruma, Members of the Regional Democratic Council, teachers, students. I’m very happy to be here once again.
I launched a bus here, Mr. Adams reminded me, last year September so you better watch out next year September; I may be back to launch another bus, but the whole idea is that this Government has a very clear idea, a very clear focus, a very clear mission, a very clear vision of why it is indulging in these ‘Five Bs’ donations.
It is a central part of my Government’s agenda and where did it start from? It started for you. It started from students in the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region in the Pomeroon River. I discovered that students were not going to school because they had no transport. I discovered that students were staying at home, they were dropping out because their parents couldn’t afford transport. So even before I got into the office, I had resolved that when I did get into office, as I knew I would, I would make sure that as far as possible we would enable children to get to school.
So, my first idea was that education was paramount for the children of Guyana. No more dropouts. We want to do three major things: One is to provide access so that there are enough schools for you to get to within your respective regions; Second, we want to ensure that your attendance is as high as it could be. There is no reason for you to stay home simply because you don’t have transport. And third is your achievement, that once you get to school, you do well. I like ‘A’ students A. A. A – Access, Attendance and Achievement and I expect you to be ‘A’ students.
So, education is very important to me. As was explained a few minutes ago it is the gateway to achievement. The second reason for this programme is to ensure that you get jobs, employment, particularly in this region, entrepreneurial employment; don’t look for work only in the Government services. There will always be Government servants, but you can have a fulfilling career as an entrepreneur, as a businessman, as a farmer, as an exporter and it is through education that you can open the doors to employment, to enterprise.
Today, I have been at two other events as you know, one at Hosororo, Wanaina for the National Tree Day and the other was to open the turmeric factory at Hosororo and I just want to remind you that you, the children of the Barima-Waini Region are very fortunate because you live in a region which is four times the size of Trinidad and Tobago. You are four times the size of Trinidad And Tobago and this region is capable of producing all of the food that you need with enough to export and to make a profit. Export to countries in the Caribbean which do not have your land space, which don’t have your fertile soil.
I am one of the staunchest advocates of produce from the north-west, the Barima-Waini Region and all around the world. I boast, if you all want to get good avocado pears come to the north-west, the best avocado pears in the western hemisphere. [Applause.]
President David Granger: Thank you for your applause. You have the resources in this region and we have a beautiful country; beautiful grasslands, beautiful wetlands, beautiful islands; beautiful highlands and all of these various forms of landscape could produce food in abundance. I want to encourage you to go to school, but use your education to enable you to become entrepreneurs: farmers, business persons.
Get boats and send your produce to Trinidad and Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean; sell to Venezuela, they need the food there. The Venezuelans need the food, you know that. So, let us use our education, let us use our access to education, let us use these buses to enable you to get to school so that you can get good employment when you leave here. You don’t have to go to work for somebody necessarily, you can work for yourself and enjoy a good life.
And the third message I have for you is what you all are using now as a small but temporary umbrella, the green ‘Giants’ exercise book, you all are sheltering from the sun with a very important gift from the Government of Guyana- the Giants of Guyana. Those are not imported animals. Those are Guyanese animals, every one of them: the Anaconda, the largest snake in the world; the Arapaima, the largest freshwater fish in the world; the Harpy eagle, the largest eagle in the world; the largest vampire bat, and the largest rodent in the world.
All these animals come from Guyana and I want you to take these books home because they come from the environment right here in the Barima-Waini, in all of our ten regions and they must be constant reminders to you of this blessed and beautiful country that you will inherit because I can’t take it with me. I have to leave it for you. So this environment is what NTD is all about, National Tree Day. That’s why I’ve come here in the first instance and the second instance and the third instance, to make sure that you understand the importance of the environment because those animals, those animals lived in the forest, they lived in the swamp, they lived in the savannahs, the lived in the mountainous areas, they live in the rainforest, they live in the grasslands, the live on the islands of the Essequibo and people are prepared to pay good money to come to Guyana to see those animals and one of these days I hope children from these schools in Mabaruma and the Barima-Waini Region would organise touring companies, so people can come and go up the creeks and rivers and look at your beautiful birds.
Guyana alone has about eight hundred and fifty species of birds. There are more birds in the Kanuku Mountains of Rupununi than the whole of Western Europe. We are really a beautiful and blessed country and you could use your education to make use of these resources and facilities by bringing tourists, not to eat wild meat, not to have manatee souse but to come and see these animals in nature.
In this regard, I would like to say particularly that I was happy to have the opportunity to be able last year to declare Mabaruma a town and it is my belief and the belief of the Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan who is sitting right here, that every region of Guyana should be administered by a ‘capital town’ and we are satisfied that Mabaruma is well underway to being able to administer this huge region.
More resources have to be provided, better roads, better lights, reliable water supply, reliable electricity supply, but we are assured that with more educated children coming out of this Barima-Waini Region you will be able to help to provide more of the services this region needs: engineering services, services in technology, road building, factories.
When I come back here I want to see more buildings, more factories running on solar power. The sunlight here is going to waste. My watch here is a solar watch. All I have to do is wear the watch and the sun drives it. Similarly, all the houses, all the factories in Mabaruma, in Hosororo, in Kumaka, all of the settlements in this great region could be driven by solar power and we want engineers coming from among you who would help propel that energy revolution.
So, these are my three messages to you. One, the buses are about education and about the access and about the achievement that I expect you to benefit from the attendance which these buses will facilitate. Second, don’t look forward to a future of unemployment, of joblessness, of dropping out but using these buses to come to school every day and do well in your exams and third, many people will migrate. Every time I go to North America there is always a large number of persons calling themselves the North West posse but they are very faithful to their region, but you when you grow up you will be able to attract them back by making the Barima-Waini Region a good destination for persons to come relax and retire.
So, thank you very much for coming out and say thanks for the ‘umbrellas’. You all sheltering under the green books there man. Thank you very much for coming out. I urge you to make good use of these buses to achieve high educational standards and contribute to the development of this region, the Barima-Waini Region.
Thank you and may God bless you all.