Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
I reiterate the ad hoc Santa Claus disbursing of taxpayers’ money is not a plan but a scheme for hiving off taxpayers’ money. Education is critical to the development of society and people and must not be trifled with. A so-called cash grant here or cash grant there will not cut it. We must watch this Irfaan Ali regime with gimlet eyes and be ever prepared to demand the money received from oil be invested in the masses, not a few. This business where they are throwing trinkets to the masses but at the same time using taxpayers’ money to buy top of the line SUVs, etc, to benefit themselves and cohorts, and engage in joy rides overseas must be condemned.
We have 35 percent of the population living below the poverty line. Most workers, be they in the public or private sector, are what is described as the working poor. These are the people paying taxes to keep government functioning, including the beleaguered Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), and are servicing the debts the government racks up on the backs of the working poor, who are the majority.
There must be intolerance from us when oil revenue is being used to create Cadillac lifestyles for the selected few. We are all children of Guyana and must not be placed in a position akin to standing outside of the ballroom, in rags, looking in at the parade of our wealth by a few. These are not the days of slavery, indentureship or colonialisation when the masses were forced to accept two societies. They on the outside looking in as the few gorged on our labour, some to the point of obesity.
The millions of U.S dollars earned to date from oil resources must be invested in the people. One such investment must be education. This abuse by elected officials and their families to benefit from scholarships paid for by taxpayers as the ordinary man’s constitutional right to free education continues to be transgressed must stop.
The Constitution of Guyana, in Article 27, clearly states education from nursery to university shall be free. We must reject promises that free education at UG will be honoured in the future. It must be honoured now!
Government must move to erase all debts for students who attended and are attending the University of Guyana (UG). Cancelling the loans is not only constitutionally right but would economically liberate persons from financial burden even before many start working. Even for those working, being saddled with this unjust debt is unconscionable and confines them to the life of the working poor.
An educated society is an empowered society. Education is vital to development. As such government must begin the process of investing in trade and tertiary education. There needs to be more specialised education to satisfy the needs of the new economy. UG must be upgraded to the level of the University of the West Indies and similar institutions. Post-secondary institutions such as the Guyana School of Agriculture, the technical institutes, Critchlow Labour College, etc, could be upgraded to provide associate degrees or more universal titles.
Opportunities must be provided for citizens to develop more technical and trade skills. Serious questions must also be raised about these GOALS programmes and the government diverting money to foreign allies to conduct training and education that could be pursued locally. Not everyone will have to go to university, but if the government allows for trade schools as was done in sugar and bauxite, to equip people to be employed in these sectors, then Guyanese would be able to compete. Both bauxite and sugar had technical schools that trained their artisans. In bauxite there was a Cadet scheme that produced engineers, accountants, economists and administrative personnel.
We must also revisit the secondary school curriculum. Have specialised high schools as intended with the multilateral schools. These schools need upgrading to include training that would equip students with skills to function. When persons graduate from them with a technical education, they can either go to work, a technical institution or university.
Our educational policy must focus on providing foundational education for oil and gas as well as a non oil and gas economies. The school that one graduates from should be able to provide the skills for better trades men and women going into the world of work. Though Guyana is a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), the fact we knew since 2015 oil and gas were found in commercial quantities, systems should have been put in place to make local labour viable and competitive. It is time oil and gas money be used in a structured, not willy nilly way, to invest in the people.