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The action by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to suspend the Charles Rosa Nursing School programme without notice, leaving young nursing students stranded, is nothing more than meanness. It is a spiteful attempt to punish the people of Linden particularly the nursing fraternity for recent protests. There is no justifiable reason for shutting the school down and the excuse presented by the MOH that there is “structural discrimination” at the school would be laughable if it was not such a serious matter.
If President Irfaan Ali is not behind this closure he should have the Ministry reverse this with immediate effect. Notably, in the MOH’s statement where there is a claim that only Region 10 is overrepresented on the programme, there is no information provided about the number of applicants from other regions and the reason, if any, why they were not admitted. To accuse the school therefore of lopsided regional representation is to vilify the action of the leaders and recruiters without even making an effort to provide the numbers to the public to support the claim.
Guyanese may recall for decades a similar attack accusing the People’s National Congress (PNC) government of deliberately denying Indians an opportunity to serve their country in the Disciplined Services. Generations grew up with an understanding that the PNC was deliberately marginalising Indians, and the Services were anti-People’s Progressive Party (PPP) because these organisations had a vast representation of African Guyanese. This was a sore issue which the PPP and supportive organisations internationalised in their victimhood status.
After claiming “structural discrimination” for the better part of 28 years, Guyanese were of the belief that the change of government in 1992 would have seen rising number of Indians added to the Disciplined Services. After 23 years of the PPP, after four and now in its fifth regime, the Services remain no different than they were under the colonial master and post-independent Guyana, that is, predominantly served by African Guyanese. After several recruitment drives under the PPP, Indians continue to demonstrate little interest in the low-wage Services which culturally they shied away from since colonial times.
Not only are the Disciplined Services predominantly one ethnic group but they have demonstrated commitment and loyalty to every single regime in power without exception. They have proven that the fears articulated by the PPP was no more than political propaganda, serving a nefarious agenda. The PPP had used the ethnic ratio in the Services to project the victimhood status that they do not vote for them and they have been under threat by our service men and women.
The Services voting patterns have not changed and the PPP has enjoyed the loyalty of a professional force remaining loyal to the State. But they have used the military in a way that the PNC and APNU+AFC Coalition governments have not.
The effort to project a deliberate imbalance in the Charles Rosa School without supplying the information about the applicants, without stating whether the conditions there allow for ease of accommodation for persons in other regions, and what has been done to facilitate people from other regions. The MOH failed to say what housing accommodations are in place for students from the other regions of Guyana to be housed in Region 10.
Charles Rosa is not a live-in institution. Therefore, the government has to play a role to ensure and make the programme attracted to people in the various regions so that our youth interested in pursuing a nursing career can be housed and supported whilst away from their regional homes. So, the willy nilly talking and accusation by the government is highly unacceptable and mean spirited. It is an attack on the youth and the potential workforce of Linden/Region 10. It is an attack on the women who form the majority in the profession. It is the suppression of women.
Guyana cannot make progress as a united people under a government that is focused only on mischief making. 233 nurses to serve a population of 40,000 is not alarming. Even if Linden has only 233 nurses, are we to assume these nurses will not go to other out stations as is done in Guyana, and these nurses cannot work in other regions. This is information the government must provide to the people and the people must demand. It is easy to see why people see this as another racist attack.