Sometime last week it was reported in the press that NICIL/SPU had initiated rewarding children of present and or past sugar workers for sterling performances at the 2019 NGSA exams. It was disclosed that three students, who hail from Berbice, were the first recipients of this recognition.
I would like to publicly commend NICIL/SPU and by extension the Government of Guyana for this worthwhile and timely gesture. What was very pleasing is that my research on the three children, who were recognized, indicates that they are somewhat economically-challenged, while as fate would have it, one of the three happens to be a child of a former worker with the other two being children of current workers.
It is very important for NICIL/SPU to know that such a gesture, while it may seem a bit simple and insignificant, is greatly appreciated and welcomed by not only the students, but their parents and by extension the communities that they live in. In these evidently hard economic and challenging times where it is becoming more and more difficult for parents to sustain their children during their educational pursuits, agencies like NICIL/SPU’s gesture will go a very far way. It further reinforces the point that the government’s decision to close the sugar industry was not one of not being caring, understanding and of genuine concern for the plight many of the thousands of workers would have faced but rather one that were in the best genuine interest of the country.
However, while many persons have sought to use the closure for political gains, we must not forget that the current and or former workers are still grappling with understanding many of their new roles as either uncertain of long term employment within the industry or coming to term with being unemployed. It certainly is not a joke for small matter when someone is thrown into the unemployed world as they are unsure and uncertain as to their future, especially if they are tasked with taking care of their family; no one wants to ever be in that position.
Therefore, I would like to suggest to NICIL/SPU to increase the number to 10 instead of three. Despite the company not indicating what is the process used in selecting the students and or as to how many students are expected to benefit each year, I am humbly asking that consideration be given to the fact that there are many other students and parents who are in similar position and urgently need some assistance. As such, to the credit of NICIL/SPU I must say that the commitment offered not just providing a bag-pack along with some finances, but rather whereby the students will receive a monthly stipend for a period of time is extremely commendable and should be emulated by others. This was the view expressed by the Regional Education Officers of Region Six.
Mr. Editor, it is important for NICIL/SPU to know that this gesture that they have started has the potential of going a very long way as it’s my firm belief that in 10 to 15 years’ time we would have a batch of academics in this country, who would have been supported significantly in their educational pursuits by an industry that once employed their parents in some way or the other. As the world continues to face an uphill task where economically families are being challenged, support in anyway or form would evidently be welcomed by families who once thought that sugar would have never died and therefore here in Guyana there are many families who desperately need the help and support of NICIL/SPU in seeking to rebuild their lives. Additionally, they also need some form of assistance being given to their children so as to ease the harsh reality of what the closure of the sugar industry did to them.
I therefore end by asking NICIL/SPU to ensure that the initiative is not one that was started and ends immediately but one that will be sustained at all cost, as they should understand the importance that education plays. Therefore, NICIL/SPU should be committed in supporting it regardless. I sincerely trust that next year more students would benefit and please NICIL/SPU note that it would be nice to spread it across the country so that students from other parts of Guyana can gainfully benefit. We must recognise that there are many students whose parents may have worked and or still working in the industry. However, it is commendable and impressive that you choose to begin in Region Six as they have led the industry in a giant way. Congrats to the students who are this year’s recipients again and to NICIL/SPU your great leadership is being demonstrated in the initiative and projects that you are undertaking.