Lethem, Guyana – (October 23, 2017) Minister of Social Cohesion with the responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. George Norton, today, urged the fourth and fifth form students of St. Ignatius Secondary School to continue to maintain their cultural traditions and way of life through formulated youth groups and other similar youth led bodies. The Minster made these remarks when he visited the school today at St. Ignatius Village, Lethem Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region Nine), noting that this practice is important to maintaining Guyana’s rich cultural heritage as well as contribute to youth development.

“I urge you to learn each other’s cultures and traditions, in terms of song and dance and most importantly your languages…Take time out to learn the Macushi or the Wapishana language and also go back into your communities form youth groups, which would help you to develop yourself, your friends in the village… We want you to realise that culture is part of you. Take up sports also; form sports groups and have friendly football or volleyball matches between your village and other neighbouring villages,” the Minister said.

The Minister and his team also spent some time with the students explaining the importance of Social Cohesion in national regional, community and their personal development. He also told the students that everyone has a part to play in achieving social cohesion in their community and by extension Guyana. “You have a role to play and your position is as important as anyone and we expect you to play a role while we strive to make Guyana a unified country, a country where there is peace, love and harmony,” Dr. Norton said.

Meanwhile, Coordinator at the Ministry of Social Cohesion, Ms. Sharon Patterson, pointed out during the session with the students, that social cohesion is a way to bring Guyanese together to work for the common good. “It [Social Cohesion] is a process and it is about nurturing and cultivating individual and community relationships in order for us to have a unified or united country… The mission of the Ministry is that one day there would be a Guyana where all of our differences or diversities would come together,” Ms. Patterson said.

Moreover, the Coordinator told the students that the Ministry will work along with them to help develop the potential of youths in their communities. She noted how pleased she was when the Ministry of Social Cohesion held its first Inter-village social cohesion exchange programme in August, where a total of 162 youths from South Central Rupununi benefited from the empowerment, entrepreneurship forum, which was held for one week in St. Ignatius. She, like Minister Norton, urged the students to take the knowledge they would have learnt from the forum and share it with other youths in their communities. Ms. Patterson added that this is a meaningful way in which they can help develop their communities.

One student, Ms. Kimberly said that she was very enlightened by the workshop, which was held by the Ministry in August. She said that she plans to teach her friends in St. Ignatius how to properly manage and to market whatever skills they may have, which could help develop their community. Young Kimberly explained that during the week of the forum she learnt self-discipline and how to be social. She explained that she was once shy and closed off but the forum has given her some confidence.

During the session today, Minister Norton took the time to interact with the students and some of their teachers. A request was made by a student for a volleyball net, which the Minister promised he would send to the village.

As the Minister responsible for sport development in Guyana, Dr. Norton also donated two basket balls to the school’s sport department.

Present with Minister Norton during the visit were Regional Educational Officer of Region Nine, Ms. Kateri Joseph, Regional Chairman of Region Nine, Mr. Brian Allicock, Head Mistress for St. Ignatius Secondary School, Ms. Yvette Archer, and Social Cohesion Technical Officer Mr. Shabir Ali.

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