Op-Ed | Education is about everything

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By Margaret Burke

PRESIDENT David Granger believes in education and he is not naïve. He has iterated in different words, at every possible forum, his conviction that “Education is an entitlement.” He also added, “I have vowed to re-introduce that entitlement…free education from nursery to university. You don’t have to migrate; you don’t have to go away. We are going to build a first-class education system. Every Guyanese child will be educated on all four levels: nursery, primary, secondary and university at the state’s expense — it is your entitlement.”

Alongside the many subjects being taught at the different levels, President Granger has been placing much emphasis on the subjects related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). These, he has highlighted, will gear many young people and others for many more jobs that are increasingly growing in Guyana every day.

He stressed that these subjects “… can produce a corps of scientists: agronomists, architects, biologists, botanists, chemists, doctors, epidemiologists, engineers, environmentalists, geneticists, geologists, hydrologists, physicists, software developers and zoologists, which are needed to ensure economically strong regions [in Guyana]…to revive and drive village industries, especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.” It is all about equipping the people of this country for the ready job market that is presenting itself daily in a variety of ways.

Tradesmen and entrepreneurs
However, President Granger understands that not everyone would respond in the same manner to book and paper, but that there has to be some amount of tools for people to respond to and work with. The coalition government has already produced more than 15,000 jobs over the four years in government; these are spread across Guyana. At the same time the APNU+AFC government is encouraging entrepreneurship by way of the many existing training programmes that are being offered to facilitate this.

And so there is proof that the entrepreneurial sector in Guyana continues to be on the rise ever since 2015. This is primarily because many more men and women are being trained for the skilled workforce. These are people who are being empowered to take up jobs as entrepreneurs and also in the productive sector. This is a result of the coalition government’s deliberate strategy of ensuring that people in the prime of their productive age-groups are enabled to get great jobs that can effectively improve their lives and that of their families.

Without prejudice, local scholarships are being offered to residents of the hinterland, coastland, and urban communities to pursue programmes in various branches of learning. This is exactly the strategy of the coalition government – to ensure that even as people are being trained, they are able to translate such knowledge into self-employment, or to rapidly finding jobs.

Training institutions
Organisations such as the Sustainable Livelihoods and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED); the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS); the Youth Innovation Project of Guyana (YIPoG), and the Kuru Kuru Cooperative College are just some of the initiatives the government is using to carry out training and create jobs that will improve people’s lives.

There are also training institutions, such as the Board of Industrial Training (BIT), the Guyana Industrial Training Centre, the Guyana Radio and Electronic Company (GRECO), among others, that are providing training in many regions across Guyana.

The training is extensive and includes areas of agriculture, agro-processing and agricultural science; business; engineering; mechanics, as well as heavy-duty equipment operation; welding and fabrication. In addition, much emphasis is also being placed on training of persons more interested in making a name for themselves in catering and commercial food preparation, cake and pastry making, sewing, nutrition, information technology, ecotourism, elderly and child-care providers and other life- skills.

Therefore added to the list of local institutions that the coalition government is using to provide such training is the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), the Government Technical Institute (GTI), Carnegie School of Home Economics, and the Critchlow Labour College, among others.

Jobs for education and training
There is no doubt that the president of this nation is serious about Guyanese being educated, be it in the arts, certificates and degrees at all levels and in various fields. PhDs, technical and vocational training, skills in carpentry, joinery, interior designing, as chefs or whatever, President Granger is insisting that the people of this land should be the best that they can be.

Just recently, in his address to past and present students, he told them, “Once you are educated, this economy will expand. We want highly trained, highly educated workers and you will be able to go out there and deliver quality performance in whatever field you choose. Employment opportunities will expand and we will want to make sure everyone of you, if you can’t be employed by some agency or corporation, you’d be able to employ yourself by expanding enterprise. You’d be able to go to manufacturing, agro-processing, mining and other forms of production.”