Children are our future

The Golden Arrowhead hoisted as Guyana celebrates its 52nd Independence Anniversary (Adrian Narine photo)

… President says Independence best time to remember Guyanese children

PRESIDENT David Granger has urged greater protection of the nation’s children, and stressed that Independence is the best time to remember that children are our future.

In his 52nd Independence address titled “Children are our future”, President Granger said “we need to bequeath to them, much more than we inherited from our own parents”. This year the President was instrumental in dedicating the flag-raising ceremony which was held during the early hours of Friday afternoon to youths.

Touching on the Independence celebrations, the Guyanese leader said Independence must be valued and safeguarded. “Independence has laid the foundation for a more inclusive and democratic society which will guarantee the good life for the next generation.”

President Granger said Guyana’s 52nd Independence Anniversary is an occasion for celebration as it commemorates a departure from past degradation and articulates the nation’s aspiration for present and future generations.

He told the nation that Independence was not the result of a single event, but rather a culmination of three hundred and fifty years of resistance, revolt and struggle against conquest, degradation, enslavement, indentureship and exploitation – the most dehumanising characteristics of European colonial rule.

A historian, President Granger reminded that the ancestors of the Guyanese people – Africans, Amerindians, Chinese, Europeans (including Portuguese), Indians and persons of mixed descent – fought against colonial rule. “Their descendants, today, are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice. The words of our National Anthem remind us: “We are born of their sacrifice, heirs of their pains…”

The Head of State added that Independence was the future for which our fore-parents fought but did not enjoy, noting that their struggle, inspired by workers’ agitation, embraced all social classes and gained political momentum with the introduction of constitutional change and the achievement of universal adult suffrage.

President David Granger and his escort, little Elliana Ganpat a student dressed as a military officer, take the salute at Friday’s Flag-raising ceremony held at D’Urban Park. (Adrian Narine photo)

Independence, once achieved, enabled the elimination of the worst forms of discrimination, the extension of universal primary and secondary education and the emergence of local economic enterprises, among other changes.

Independence ushered in an era of national pride which has buoyed Guyanese society. National symbols – such as the national anthem, awards, coinage, flag, institutions, patriotic songs and stamps – helped to define our distinctive identity. Guyana took its place as a sovereign state in the international community.

Public education, at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels, became more accessible with the introduction of new multilateral schools, technical institutes, teachers’ college of education and a university.

Our policy for universal primary and secondary education will ensure that every child has a place in school by improving attendance through the provision of buses, boats and bicycles. Reforms of the public education sector are designed to improve attainment at examinations.

Public infrastructure, with the construction of new aerodromes, bridges and highways and the extension of public utilities and services such as the supply of electricity, housing and water, enhanced the quality of life.

Public health services, through neighbourhood clinics, local health centres and regional hospitals, improved childcare, reduced the incidence of child mortality, non-communicable and vector-borne diseases among our growing population of children.

Social development has been emphasised by the reintroduction of the National Cadet Corps, the National Youth Corps and the reform of the New Opportunity Corps which enabled more children to attain their full potential. Increased emphasis on arts, culture and sports will help children to enjoy a happier childhood.

Guyana is a bountiful country. We are reminded, daily, about our potential. We are on the way to establishing a ‘green state’ in which the environment will be better protected, sustainable development of our natural resources will be pursued, cheaper and more abundant energy from renewable sources will be provided and the well-being of present and future generations will be assured.

Guyanese are a beautiful people. We, the children of the continents of earth – Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe – are on the way to creating a more cohesive society.