It’s not real
I HAVE developed and worked in the media B.C (Before Computers) and saw the advent of computers wipe out jobs, close down departments, enhance individual production, replace hand done colour separations, receive my first emails and responded, behaved prehistoric when Hoppy brought my first computer, eventually managed it, then groaned at the support costs but continued, because you either evolve or become fossil fuel. Google, Facebook, Pinterest, became second nature and I too became enthralled by the idea that social media was an all-Guyanese reality. The thing is, I walk, stop and chat with people who I’ve known all my life, with past school friends of my children and relatives, then to realise that my partial envelopment by modernisation is my private conceit and does not belong to all my countrymen and women.
I’ve had people confess that they have never touched a computer, heard about Facebook, but can’t see how it’s necessary. I’ve explained but the conversation subtly moves on in a different direction. They watch TV, read some newspapers and debate for hours with friends. Politically, the age of the ’bottom house dutty propaganda ent over yet’ and many of those left out are angry and willing to believe that they are victims, political, ethnic or social victims and sections of the media and their leadership are prepared to lie to them. They are the cannon fodder, and my friends in the political field have got to pay attention.
If we take a quick look at our Facebook page we would recognise that about a third of the people on the page are overseas, many are not Guyanese either and are on multiple pages. New ideas with a budget and effort don’t spread wildly, regardless of the hype. We can fall back on the efforts to get this nation literate even before Independence, when Education Ministry inspectors visited homes to legally force parents to comply, yet, situations presented themselves where parents and guardians decided, in a majority of cases with male children to cut the literacy programme, to take them out of school to let them earn to supplement the parental errors of the past that resulted in single-parent situations, or the sudden demise of a provider. The overall positives of a social or technical reality and cultural boast does not translate into any financial indulgence by populations hooked on traditional forms of employment which included the waterfront, pork knockers, fishermen, cash crop farming, shovel men, weeders, coalpit-coal providers and cane cutting.
Enforcement couldn’t alter those situations, much less a current choice that demands certain ready abilities of literacy, patience and knowledge-based references. Recently, a village official told me that he went to the regional office to inquire on a matter and was told that the information is on the Government website. Without complaining, he left and he contacted me and I after a few days accessed the information. He is literate but is intimidated by the computer, which is not unusual. I experienced that freeze, along with other illustrators when computers came on our scene in the early 90s, demanding that ‘Letraset’ and watercolours must step back to colouring projects on Photoshop. Somebody managing the state/people interaction must realise how many of our citizens are illiterate and semi-literate with respect to understanding the procedures of systems.
Earlier this year I had a brief exchange with a Minister and she advised me to write her on the suggestion that in the teaching of probably Office Management, that the legal implications of the Power Attorney, Letter of Administration, the pledging of Transports for legal fees etc. be included in the secondary curriculum. Why? Because many a family have been robbed legally because of mistaken trust to miscreants in proper disguise with credentials. To compound the above, a village chairman desperately appealed to me that he was unsure how to get some villagers to obtain their birth certificates, since the process was like learning to read and write, one that carried a shame issue. I’m talking 2018. In 2016 he had acquired the aid of the Birth Certificate department (not sure of its official title) to visit the area. They did, but those in need of the service were too embarrassed or intimidated and they never turned up to the village office. So much for the all-enveloping mystique of social media that though it has its captive audience, we must realise the limitations that have existed for some decades, with accustomed limited literacy demand vocations, when those work avenues were widely available, and a previous Education Ministry policy of “No child left behind” that created several thousand literacy-challenged young Guyanese, as this was executed void of the industrial training composite.
In my day you failed in Form One, you stayed there, until you worked your way to barely pass, but there was always Industrial Training providing a way out and a viable economic career.
I drew to the attention of my family a reality about the excitement of TV entertainment shows like EXTRA, which comes from newspaper theme- battle cry.
That those shows appeal to a viewer audience whose dramatic entertainment revolves around about no more than a hundred people at the pinnacle of their celebrity careers, dazzling, exciting, enthralling, but as cliquish as Facebook and as necessary to our multifaceted interests. We have got to adopt a multiverse mindset, not restricted to our own galaxy. Like it or not it’s where we are and there’s no turning back.