A Parliamentary handbook entitled ‘Our House’ was launched on Friday at Parliament Buildings, aimed at informing Guyanese about the functions of Parliament.
The book, which serves as an introduction to the Parliament of Guyana, was prepared by the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), through tangible support from the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI).
President of the ACM, Wesley Gibbings, took time before the formal launching ceremony to explain to members of the media the various components of the book. According to Gibbings, major proponents of the association are promoting freedom of speech and honing the skills of media workers.
The handbook, though serving as a very informative guide, is only a brief introduction to Guyana’s parliament and parliamentary affairs. It, however, will be able to supply relative information and would assist media personnel too, as they provide coverage of Parliament.
The book will be distributed through educational outreach programmes organised by the staff of the Parliament. Citizens can also uplift free copies from Parliament Building. Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Pierre Giroux, during his brief remarks related, “It [the book] opens a new avenue in understanding the democratic processes [of Parliament].”
According to him, the book will be able to foster a greater participation of Guyanese in parliamentary affairs. The High Commissioner related that the Government of Canada through its foreign policy is willing to provide support to the promotion of development in many areas.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland asserted, “This publication has extraordinary possibilities…It’s an excellent start, because what it allows us is to see this as an opportunity to tell Guyanese and friends of Guyana more about the Parliament of Guyana.”
Dr. Scotland highlighted that the staff of Parliament have begun engaging persons through outreach programmes in an attempt to ensure that Parliament is no longer a “mysterious place”. This book now provides a timely opportunity to build on that work, he added.
Published in ‘Our House’ are three sections about Parliament and Government, the rules and processes of parliamentary affairs, and parliamentary sign posts. Each section highlights the functions of the institution and the people associated with it. It provides the nexus between people and Parliament.
The history of the Parliament is also underscored along with notable persons and events associated with the institution. The handbook is also accompanied by a children’s version which seeks to engage children in a similar manner. The children’s version features symbols of nationhood and other fun illustrations and games, easily able to captivate the young reader.
Furthermore, a website “ourhouse.gy” was also created and it affords anyone the opportunity to download both the adult and child-friendly books electronically and free of cost. On the website there are features in the form of games, quizzes and flash-cards, all relating to parliament.
A number of persons contributed to the publication. Nazima Raghubir and Wesley Gibbings led the editorial team while Johann Earle and Sara Bharrat researched and wrote the book. Photographs were provided by KeNo George, Adrian Persaud and the Parliament of Guyana. A local company, IntellectStorm, managed the entire layout, design and illustration of the book and website.