Whose Human Development? 

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Dear Editor , 

One assumes that the visiting participants of the Conference at the Marriott Hotel on ‘Charting Sustainable Energy Future’ would have been most impressed with the Billion US Dollar presentation made by our host President in his welcome.

To the average local listener, like the writer, almost every paragraph seemed to have been brightened by the arithmetics of Guyana’s projected economy, which included mention of ‘human development’, also so much mentioned in the 2022 Budget debate.

However, one suspects that the ‘humans’ in the Public Service, Health and the Teaching Service in particular must be wondering at what stage and time they would benefit from any of the ‘billion dollar’ development projections. Indeed, more fundamentally they and colleague citizens must be contemplating on what is the nature and content of the over-emphasised ‘development’ plan.

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The latter continue to express, apart from the necessary focus on remuneration, this very substantive concern about career prospects, all of which must logically be discussed with the engaged parties on the basis of the ‘transparency’ so much touted – in other words as equal partners (obviously including the related unions).

In this regard therefore, attention is again invited to the fact that current jobs and compensation constructs for the aforementioned professionals are outdated in relation to existing organisational needs. They constitute a series of demoralising returns for those groupings who need to be qualified (as well as licensed) to deliver the services required of them.

First of all, there is the case of the Public Service, the contributions of whose ‘Contracted Employees’ were much touted in the recent budget debate, almost to the complete indifference of their longer serving counterparts – albeit without the factual basis of a performance evaluation exercise that should apply equally to all – as one component of ‘human development’.

Nor is there any evidence of a Succession Plan which inspires aspirations for any ‘development’ through objective selection and promotion. In brief the culture of ‘development’ simply does not exist, so far as the current 14 Grade salary Job Structure is concerned. The latter is contained in the following formal categories of staff in the Public Service:

Administrative                                     –       1,439

Senior Technical                                  –       2,064

Other Technical & Craft Skilled               –       3,392 

Clerical and Office Support                    –       6,567

Semi-skilled Operatives and Unskilled      –       2,914

The above categorisation established in 1992, does not take account of the organisational, technical, operational changes and consequently accountability relationships that have substantively taken place over the past three decades, and during which the simplistic retention of the position of ‘Typist/Clerk’ has persisted-up to Budget 2022.

But perhaps the more fundamental question being asked is what future careers can be offered across Ministries to:

Clerical and Office Support                    –       6,567

Semi-skilled Operatives & Unskilled         –       2,914

Are the above not entitled to enquire of their future as ‘human beings’ in this rewarding ‘Oil and Gas’ economy. But then colleagues in the ten Regions are in a similar predicament. Their distribution is as follows:

Administrative                             –       2,503

Senior Technical                          –       4,560

Other Technical & Craft Skilled       –       3,439 

Clerical and Office Support            –          632

Semi-skilled Operatives & Unskilled –       2,095

So that, however glibly, one ends up with a total of 12,208 potential aspirants for ‘human development’, to which their children could be witnesses.

In addition to the above there is still a substantial proportion of teachers who have to cope through some 27 salary levels established in the colonial era, and which no Administration since independence has bothered to redress. There is no question therefore that the vaunted ‘human development’ plan must include the laxing of this constipative situation as a matter of extreme urgency. It is the very administration who praises the achievements of students who are the successful products of the efforts of teachers – an incisive performance appraisal evaluation seen to all, particularly parents. Teachers must be seen as setting the foundation of the espoused ‘human development’ programme.

Amongst the technological and other professional changes, the Health Sector is obviously a high priority occupational area, moreso in this critical pandemic age, to which even Ministers (and families) are exposed. This is one group therefore with whom an appropriately qualified leadership team must hold exhaustive discussions about the strengths and weaknesses of their work environment, while taking account of the incidence of migration already observed amongst qualified nurses. Surely it must be understood that the ‘human development’ of our health workforce is critical to the sustained development of the rest of the population – to rising above ‘infrastructure’. There is substantive urgency in updating the value of these practitioners.

E.B. John 
Organisational Development and 
Human Resources Management 



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