Georgetown, Guyana (August 1, 2019): President David Granger, this afternoon, said that with Guyana’s expected petroleum revenues, citizens will be able to benefit from free education at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. The President was at the time addressing attendees at this year’s National Emancipation Festival held at the No.53/Union Village, East Berbice- Corentyne (Region Six).
“Our expected petroleum revenues, apart from what would be devoted to our Sovereign Wealth Fund, will help us to restore education in accordance with our Constitution. Those resources belong to future generations and future generations will benefit and profit from being educated. This would be an educated nation,” the Head of State said.
Noting that with first oil on the horizon, all citizens must benefit from the opportunity to obtain a good life and free education as enshrined in the Constitution, is one way to ensure a better standard of living.
“[Guyana] must not be a nation of a few rich people and very poor, uneducated people. There must be a school in every village, this national decade of development I speak about must ensure that at least one school is established in every village…I want to see a primary school in every single village. There must be a place for every child in school in Guyana. Every child must be able to get to school by road or by river,” the Head of State said.
President Granger said the greatest gift of Emancipation, in his view, is the gift of education. African-Guyanese, he said, have embraced education as a means of providing a better life for themselves, their families and future generations. They supported the establishment of social institutions for education and religious instruction, including by providing lands for the establishment of churches and schools.
African-Guyanese were pioneers in providing educational opportunities during the last century, the President said, while pointing to Norman Cameron, a Berbician, who was not only a mathematician, historian, educationist, essayist and dramatist, but he established his own school – the Guianese Academy. Similarly, the Costello brothers – Austin, Cosmo and Joseph – established the Tutorial High School which provided education for children of low-income parents among others.
“Access to education created opportunities for the professional development of African-Guyanese. Their presence increased in public education, public administration, public health, public security and public information. Emancipated Africans employed their education to re-construct their world. Education was the gateway to their entry into every field of human endeavour and national life,” President Granger said.
He reminded that African-Guyanese and their descendants have distinguished themselves in academia, agriculture, accounting, the arts, business, diplomacy, education, engineering, law-enforcement, legal services, medicine, politics, the public service, sport and trade unionism and other fields.
“African contributions are undeniable and ineradicable. Persons of African descent, however, still confront obstacles to their recognition, the pursuit of justice and to their development,” he added.
The President’s vision is for every child to have access to education. He said no child must be hampered by their parent’s financial inability to send them to school while referencing the Public Education and Transport Service (PETS) launched four years ago. Thus far, 29 buses, 12 boats and more than 1,400 bicycles were distributed to ensure children across the ten administrative regions are able to attend school on a daily basis.
“My brothers and sisters, every citizen, every Guyanese has a right to education. This is a basic entitlement of all of us, all of our children. Free education is an entitlement mandated by our constitution which states “every citizen has the right to free education from nursery to university,” he said.
President Granger said too that every school student should be taught science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as the public education system must equip students for the knowledge-based societies of the future. He highlighted too, the need for an expansion to the National Endowment for Science and Technology (NEST) which, over the past four years, has been providing grants for the improvement of school’s science laboratories. The President said between 2020 and 2029 there will also be an expansion of the Guyana Youth Corps to ensure that boys and girls who leave school without matriculating- from the coastland and hinterland- are given an opportunity to be trained to re-enter the world of work.
The Head of State reminded that the first Emancipation covenant won for everyone the right to exist in a society free from enslavement. The ‘Decade of Development’ is the second Emancipation which assures everyone the right to education.
The General Assembly of the United Nations, via Resolutions 68/237 of 23rd December 2013 designated the decade 1st January 2015 to 31st December 2024 as the International Decade for the People of African Descent and, by Resolution 69/16 of 18th November, 2014, adopted a Programme of activities for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent.
The designation of the ‘International Decade’ acknowledges that Africans were the victims of the greatest crime against humanity and continue to suffer from dispossession and discrimination.
The President said the ‘International Decade’ recognises that people of African descent have not yet fully overcome the legacy of colonial underdevelopment which continues to contribute to their present condition.
The Programme of activities for the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent, developed by the United Nations, commits member states of the United Nations to “support research and educational initiatives” and, also, to:
“…ensure that quality education is accessible and available in areas where communities of African descent live, particularly in rural and marginalized communities, with attention to improving the quality of public education”.
“Your government is committed to safeguarding the legacy of Africans and all others by committing to ensuring that the next ten years – 2020-2029 – will be a decade of development for all Guyanese. We have a plan which will ensure that the forthcoming decade will be a “decade of development” for all Guyanese that will place emphasis on education,” the President said.
He continued: “Let me tell you my brothers and sisters that your Government in accordance with this United Nations Injunction is committed to safeguarding the legacy of Africans and in particular to ensuring that the objectives of the International Decades for People of African Descent are achieved. From 2020 to 2029 it will be a national decade of development for Guyanese and we are going to place emphasis on education. We don’t have to be told this by the United Nations, we will do it ourselves.”
Emancipation, the President said, means education. He noted that Guyana is on the right path. “We are proud of the progress that we have made but we know that real change is neither quick nor easy. Let us continue to combine our energies for the education of the present and future generation,” he said.
President Granger was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Sandra Granger, their daughter Ms. Afuwa Granger and two grandchildren, Hannibal and Faraa Gaskin.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and his wife, Mrs. Sita Nagamootoo, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Basil Williams, SC., Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Karen Cummings; Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton; Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Amna Ally and Foreign Secretary, Mr. Carl Greenidge also attended the Emancipation Festival.