…President Granger tells Heritage Day celebrations at Riversview
PRESIDENT David Granger, on Tuesday, attended Heritage Day celebrations at Riversview Village, Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice, Region 10 where he emphasised that education is the pathway to prosperity.
The President said Riversview Village, which straddles two regions, the Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice Region and the Cuyuni-Mazaruni (Region Seven), needs the human capital to turn promise into prosperity. The village is on the verge of a farming, logging, mining and tourism economy, he said.
“All of these economic activities can bring wealth and prosperity to the people of Riversview and this beautiful village. But how will you do it? How will you attract the eco-tourists? How will you attract the revenue from mining and logging? You will do so with an educated population. Education is not a side show. Education is central to the development not only of Riversview, but entire Indigenous Community, the entire Region Seven and 10, and to the entire country,” President Granger said.
Education will equip not only the nation’s children, but those of Riversview with the knowledge and skills needed to transform the resources into riches and enable them to develop the economy and open opportunities for employment, the President said. In May 2016, the Head of State visited the community to hand over two boats, one to assist in the event of health emergencies and, the other, a ‘David G’ boat to transport children to school in Bartica.
He reminded that education is supported by the Public Education Transport Service (PETS or 5Bs) which is essential to school attendance. The provision of the school boat has resulted in significant reduction in ‘skulking’ and significant savings for parents who were paying more than $20,000 per month for one child to attend school in Bartica. “As long as I am President, you will never have to pay. You can now use those savings to improve the quality of life in your homes and villages. This Education Month is a very significant month for all of us because it is the pathway to development and the pathway to giving your children a better opportunity to succeed,” the President said.
With both Indigenous Heritage Month and Education Month being observed in September, the Head of State said educational development is the pathway to Indigenous People’s development. “Everyone has a better chance in the modern economy with its emphasis on knowledge-based industries, if he/she has a good education,” the President said.
He then reminded that his government’s policy is ‘Every child in school’. “We want every child to have access to education, to attend school regularly and to graduate from school with the knowledge, skills and values to be able to provide for his or her family,” he said. “I would like Riversview to adopt that motto so that nowhere in this village, this community, region, should children be prevented from going to school and doing well in school. Children must be given access; they must be allowed to attend school and they must achieve high results,” the President asserted.
Iterating that education is a public good, the President said one of the most important objectives of education in Guyana is not about distributing certificates, but is a matter of ensuring equality. “It doesn’t matter where you were born, it doesn’t matter where you grow up, once you achieve education through our public education system, nobody can kick you around,” the Head of State said, even as he urged youth to remain in school. “There is a golden prize waiting for you,” he said, adding that “education is essential to success”. The President charged all villagers to take responsibility for every child in Riversview Village as it takes a village to raise successful citizens in this country.
FOCUS ON EDUCATION
Meanwhile, the Head of State emphasised that the Decade of Development, which starts in 2020 and ends in 2029, will focus on education, including hinterland education through improvements in schools’ infrastructure, including accommodation and transportation; investments in better teaching and educational tools – books, educational kits information communications technologies, laboratories, learning resource centres, scholarships and smart classrooms; and increases in the number of schools so that children would not have to travel long distance to attend school.
“Today my friends, we are on the threshold of another revolution in hinterland education…Where will the money come from? It is not going to come from the sky, it is going to come from the sea. Our petroleum resources will be invested first and foremost into you and your children to provide world class education for the Guyanese population,” the President said, to loud applause from the gathering. The President said the Decade of Development beckons and in just a few months, Guyanese will be benefitting from a decade of growth which would be propelled by petroleum.
“Education is at the top of my list…Education is the cornerstone of development. This is not a pipe dream; this is not an elections slogan. This comes from the supreme law of the land; this comes from the Constitution,” the President noted. The Constitution of Guyana says, “Every citizen has the right to free education from nursery to university, as well as at non-formal places where opportunities are provided for education and training”.
President Granger said that it is his duty, desire and obligation to ensure that hinterland students are given equal opportunities through access to education. He said, education is now moving on the correct path with more than $170B having been expended on education over the past four years. Expenditure on the public education sector moved from 14.8 per cent of the national budget in 2014 to 17.0 per cent in 2017. Additionally, President Granger said the Indigenous village is the cradle of culture; a repository of Indigenous cultural customs, traditions, values and practices. It is the village, he said, which inculcates the Indigenous way of life in its children and youth. The village plays an essential role in preserving Indigenous languages and promoting the Indigenous way of life, including the development of arts, he said, as he referenced the National Day of Villages observed on November 7, annually.
The President said the National Day of Villages is a national, not coastal concept, which recognises the indispensable role which villages play in the nation’s development. President Granger said during the Decade of Development, efforts will be made to ensure safe villages with vibrant village economies, clean air, healthy environment and a school in every village.
The Head of State said Riversview Village, in particular, is entrusted with the protection of its environment. The village lies along the bank of Guyana’s longest river, one that stretches for more than 1,000 km. “Riverview must help to protect the integrity of not only its air and land but also of this river by ensuring a pollution-free environment. It must preserve its rich biodiversity so that it can hand over, to future generations, a rich legacy of environmental protection,” the President said, as he congratulated Riversview on being designated as Indigenous Heritage Village 2019.
Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Mr. Sydney Allicock, said today was historic as Riversview Village is the first village in the Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice to host the National Indigenous Heritage Day celebrations. “You should be proud of the title Indigenous Heritage Village and should not take this occasion lightly. Instead, I urge you to capitalise on the opportunity to market your products, share your knowledge and share your experience… you have a great opportunity to work towards access to business and markets, and showcase new products from the hinterland,” Minister Allicock said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Karen Cummings; Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Ms. Valerie Garrido-Lowe; Minister of State, Mrs. Dawn Hastings-Williams; Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton; Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Raphael Trotman; Minister within the Ministry of the Presidency with responsibility for Youth Affairs, Ms. Simona Broomes; Mayor of Bartica, Mr. Gifford Marshall; Regional Chairmen of Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice, and Cuyuni-Mazaruni Regions, Mr. Rennis Morian and Mr. Gordon Bradford, also attended the Heritage Day celebrations. This year’s celebration is themed, “Maintaining our cultural practices while promoting a green economy.” (Ministry of Presidency)