Georgetown, Guyana – (September 28, 2019): President David Granger, this morning, attended Heritage Celebrations at St. Cuthbert’s Mission, Demerara-Mahaica (Region Four) where he told residents that education is the key to employment and development.
“…Without education employment will be hard to find,” President Granger said, in his feature address at the event. The Head of State said it is his vision and policy to see Indigenous people enjoying the same lifestyles as other Guyanese. “We don’t want a situation in which the Indigenous people are held back. We want them to aspire to the highest positions in the land. Let them be whatever they want to be… People don’t want to be poor. People want to move their families, villages and communities further,” he said.
The President said education is the key to unlocking increased economic opportunities as it equips persons with the knowledge and the skills needed to become self-employed and to earn an income. Education is a great equalizer, he said, which will allow Indigenous children to compete for the same opportunities as children in other parts of the country.
The Head of State said Government’s policy is for hinterland students to receive the same quality of education and to perform equally well as students from the coastland. The educational standard within hinterland communities should be no different from that of the rest of the country, he asserted. The President pointed to the Plan of Action for Hinterland Development which he laid out in his address to the Conference of the National Toshaos’ Council four years ago on August 28, 2015.
He said the ‘Plan of Action’ which aims at reducing inequality between residents of the hinterland and the rest of country by eradicating poverty, promoting employment and economic prosperity and by enhancing access to public services is still valid and relevant.
The Plan of Action has guided Government’s actions to empower hinterland residents through education, employment, economic enterprises, energy, infrastructure, land rights, public services, cultural development and the protection of the environment.
“Guyana has to reduce the disparities in education between the coastland and the hinterland if the country is to become more fully integrated as a nation. Education is the single most important factor likely to have the greatest impact on hinterland development,” President Granger said.
The President said too that the national educational policy aims at closing the educational gap between the hinterland and the coastland. The reduction of this gap is necessary to reduce poverty and reverse hinterland unemployment, underdevelopment, migration and to ensure a more inclusive and cohesive nation.
Moreover, the Head of State said the national educational policy aims also at producing ‘A’ students: ‘A’ for access to education; ‘A’ for attendance at School; and ‘A’ for attainment. The first ‘A’ is about ensuring that every child is placed within a school. The President reminded that this is an entitlement which can be realised only if every child has access to primary and secondary education; attends school and attains the ultimate objectives of education by completing his or her schooling.
The President noted that attendance at school is equally important, explaining that the Government’s policy is to ensure that every child attends school and stays in school. He said progress has been made in this endeavour with the launch of the Public Education Transportation Service (PETS) which started as the 3Bs project four years ago. To date, 29 buses, 10 boats and more than 4000 bicycles have been distributed so far under PETS to make it easier for children to attend school.
The President also said that attainment is also another important factor in education. Attainment, he said, means completing one’s studies, achieving good grades and graduating with qualifications and certification which would allow students to enter the world of work as adults. The Head of State told residents of St. Cuthbert’s Mission that education must be strengthened if the village is to progress.
“Children must inherit an even better country than we inherited from our parents and grandparents…The most important legacy that we can bequeath to our children is a sound education. You cannot go anywhere in life, especially in this competitive age, without a sound education,” President Granger said.
The President said that during the Decade of Development which will be launched from 2020-2029, he has pledged to enforce the constitutional entitlement of free education from nursery to university. “It is in the Constitution; I didn’t invent it. It is an entitlement of every Guyanese child. I urge and insisted that when we get more money particularly through petroleum revenues although part will be put aside in the Sovereign Wealth Fund, part of it will be dedicated to education. You cannot achieve anything in life without being educated,” he said.
The President said the village has a vital role in education and must be restored to a central place in education.
“Villages are one of the most important institutions in the country. Most Guyanese come from villages and most Guyanese still live in villages. Villages must be provided with the same quality of services …we should honour and respect the role that villages play in building our country. Without the villages, we would lose our language, our culture, lose our friends, our roots,” the President said.
He added that the launch of the ‘Decade’ will put greater emphasis on overcoming the challenges which Guyanese continue to face. Reminding that Guyana will celebrate its 50th Republic Anniversary in February 2020, the President said progress over the past 50 years must be measured as it should be seen as a time of reflection as well as planning.
Meanwhile, Toshao of St. Cuthbert’s Mission, Ms. Beverly Clenkian thanked President Granger for attending the Village’s Heritage Celebrations while noting that it has been developing over the years.
“Our education system is better. We have done very well this year at CSEC. Our Primary school also did well. We are the closest community to the city and we must be happy for that,” the Toshao said.
In addition to the educational improvements, Toshao Clenkian said the health sector has been boosted with a health centre which has two doctors stationed there along with a pharmacy. Further, she disclosed that St. Cuthbert’s Mission has been designated as the village for next year’s Republic Anniversary.
“A lot of things are going on in St. Cuthbert’s…I know the Government is trying its utmost to help Amerindian communities in Guyana. As Amerindians, we want to unite and cooperate,” she said.
Additionally, Regional Chairman, Demerara-Mahaica (Region Four), Ms. Genevieve Allen, Mr. Earle Lambert, of the Region Four Democratic Council and Mr. Ernest Elliot, Assistant Director, Community Development, Ministry of Communities and former Toshao, St. Cuthbert’s Mission, Mr. Lenox Shuman also attended the also attended the celebrations.