Georgetown, Guyana – (September 1, 2019) Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Mr. Joseph Harmon, today, visited the village of Aliki, Essequibo Islands- West Demerara (Region Three), where he delivered on his promise to provide a school boat for the students in the area.
The Director General also handed over 100 pairs of school shoes to the Headmaster of the Aliki Primary School, Mr. Ganesh Dugan.
During a meeting held in the community on June 30, 2019 by Mr. Harmon and Minister of Business, Mr. Haimraj Rajkumar, residents had made a request for a school boat. The Director General subsequently promised the residents that the boat will be delivered to the community in time for the commencement of the new school term in September.
In addressing the residents at the Aliki Primary School, minutes after the boat was handed over to the Headmaster, Mr. Harmon said that the David Granger- led administration sees education and access to education as a national priority and would therefore do what is necessary to ensure that barriers, which prevent students from getting to school, are removed.
“I am delighted to be here to deliver on the commitment which we made when we were here in June. We wanted to ensure that the children can get to school and get so on time. It is a commitment that we do not take lightly because it has to do with the education of our children and as you are aware, the President has put high priority on education in this country. Since we came into office in 2015, every year, the budget for education has increased because we recognise that the development of this country, the leaps and bound which we will have to take, will be dependent on an educated nation and we have to start by ensuring that our children get to school. We have made that commitment to get children to school. So, the delivery of this boat is consistent with the promise, which our President made to ensure our children are in school and they can get to school,” he said.
The boat was donated by Mr. Tulsi Persaud, a businessman from the neighbouring village of Lanaballi. Director General Harmon said that he is pleased that corporate Guyana as well as individuals are coming forward to aid the Government in its mission of ensuring that every child across Guyana is able to go to school.
“We believe that if the Government sets a framework, that the private businesses and individuals can make a contribution within that framework for the development of the country and in this case, the development of our children. This is the kind of corporate social responsibility we talk about, where people recognise that they can give back to their communities. It is not the Government that drives development in a country. The Government establishes the policies and it is really the private sector that drives development and therefore businesses that come forward to support missions like this, we must applaud them,” Mr. Harmon expressed.
He also called on the community, the parents, teachers and village leaders to ensure that the boat is used for its intended purpose and taken care of.
“The boat is there to serve the children so I would ask that special attention be placed on how it is used. It is for the children. It is not to be used for recreation and other uses. Let it be for the children, who have to go to school,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Persaud in an invited comment, said that as a child, born and raised in a riverine community, he had to paddle to get to school every day. He noted that he has been observing the ‘Boats, Buses and Bicycles’ initiative by President David Granger and when he was approached by the Director General to consider assisting the community, it was an easy decision to make.
Mr. Persaud also noted that he has decided to take it a step forward and will be handing over two more boats in the coming weeks to serve the students in Lanaballi, Bonasika and surrounding communities.
Meanwhile, Mr. Dugan, in his remarks, thanked the Director General, the Government and Mr. Persaud for honouring his commitment to the community. He noted that it will go a long way in ensuring that children get to school.
“I cannot tell you the joy I am feeling and so on behalf of our school, our teachers and our children, I wish to say thank you. You have done a good thing here for us,” Mr. Dugan noted.
A resident, Mr. Roy Creighton, also expressed his gratitude as he gave the assurance that the residents will ensure that the boat is well taken care of.
“You had made promises to the community and I would say that once someone can stand to their words, those are good people because you gave us their word and today you are back to fulfil those promises and we must applaud that.
We would ensure that it is taken care of because it is in our best interests. We will also use it for the purpose it has been given to the community for,” he promised.
Meanwhile, following a request for internet connectivity in the area, Mr. Harmon informed the residents that the National Data Management Authority (NDMA) has already started work in the village. The system, he said, will be up and running by the end of 2019.
Mr. Harmon was accompanied by Regional Executive Officer of Region Three, Mrs. Jennifer Ferreira- Dougal.