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Guyanese often get the sense that national actions are taken without much thinking through. Recently it was the issue of uprooting mangroves in Region Three to facilitate the establishment of a start-up business. These mangroves are not only legally protected but serve the function in managing climate change given their soil fortification and other ecosystem relevance. Rather than the government rethink its position when the matter came to national attention Minister Juan Edghill has since doubled down.
Mr. Joe Harmon, Leader of the Opposition, has since written to more than 50 international organisations about uprooting of the mangroves. Guyana is not only a signatory to the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement but receives money from Norway to preserve our trees. Cutting down the mangroves not only threatens the ecosystem but proves Guyana cannot honour its commitment even when it stands to benefit the environment and is being paid to do so. It is understandable therefore why the Opposition has sought to internationalise the issue.
Then there has been news of the United States (U.S)-based International Republican Institute (IRI) being asked to play a role in electoral reform in Guyana. This has created serious backlash not only because a matter of this nature failed to have national approval but the manner in which the U.S Embassy and the Government of Guyana went about it. U.S Ambassador Sarah Ann Lynch knows this too.
It is a pity the Ambassador, as equally as she pronounces on other national issues, ignored the Electoral Reform Project in its present facilitation would have created backlash, political and ethnic tensions. The issue of the IRI is about the Government of Guyana seemingly wanting to go ahead with Reform without involvement of stakeholders, particularly the main Opposition who should have been involved from the inception.
Then if Guyanese were to think after the furore over the electoral reform things would change, Minister of Education Priya Manickchand announced there might be the possibility of abandoning the National Grade Six Assessment (NASA). Former Minister of Education Dr. Nicolette Henry cautioned against making such a monumental move that will affect the education of Guyana’s children without national input. No country in the world that values education would seek to make such a major decision without the involvement of stakeholders.
Any change in the education of Guyana’s children should have the input of the parents, teachers, political opposition, and other stakeholders. There should be national conversation on the matter, with the pros and cons discussed and reviewed. The government should have a clear, justifiable approach why they are moving, yet again, to change the education structure. And this approach should be with an open mind to facilitate review and if necessary cancellation.
Political and racially diverse societies such as ours require careful deliberation on national issues. It is as basic as ABC that if matters like these do not have national consensus they could falter and backfire. People, particularly leaders on both sides, have to think things through thoroughly. Where such thought processes are often absent; they highlight a major deficiency in the management of the State and the people’s welfare, including the environment. This is not good for any business, much less a government whose decisions could adversely or positively impact an entire nation and its people for generations to come.