President David Granger: Distinguished nominees to the Ethnic Relations Commission and the Teaching Service Commission; invited guests; members of the media; ladies and gentlemen. I would like to commend [Chief Education Officer] Mr. Hutson’s tie to all persons present. I don’t think the 48th Anniversary of our republic should go without some form of celebration. I commend you Mr. Hutson, tie of the year.

The Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana provides for the establishment of an Ethnic Relations Commission and a Teaching Service Commission. Constitutional service commissions are enshrined, established and empowered by our Constitution. The service commissions insulate citizens and institutions against influence and interference by the Executive.

The Ethnic Relations Commission is intended inter alia to promote good relations: harmony, peace, tolerance and understanding between our peoples; to provide equal opportunity between persons of different ethnic groups, and to proscribe ethnic discrimination.

The Constitution vests the Ethnic Relations Commission with wide-ranging functions. It lists at Article 212 (d) the 24 functions which are assigned to the Ethnic Relations Commission. These functions entail a broad range of actions and interventions, including education, investigation, monitoring, reviewing, recommending and research and study. The work of the Ethnic Relations Commission is essential to ensuring ethnic harmony and social cohesion in our republic.

The Teaching Service Commission mandated by the Constitution was established to ensure that teachers appointments are undertaken by an independent body and are based on merit. The Teaching Service Commission is vested by the Constitution with, and I quote, “the power to appoint persons as teachers in the public service and to remove and exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices”. The work of the commission will contribute to ensuring a corps of qualified, trained and highly motivated teachers in our educational system. It will assure these teachers of fairness in their appointments and due process in the exercise of discipline.

Ladies and gentlemen, I congratulate the members of the Ethnic Relations Commission and the Teaching Service Commission who have just taken their respective oaths of appointments. I urge them to discharge their duties without cowardice, without malice and without prejudice. I wish the newly appointed commissioners every success in the discharge of their duties.

Thank you.

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