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No place for the lazy, backwards, bigoted, race-baiting politics of PNC/APNU/AFC

Dear Editor,
Unfortunately for all of us, the political opposition went to Capitol Hill, Washington DC, and embarrassed all of Guyana with their ineptitude. According to the Opposition’s own accounts, the Congressmen and women told the group to produce evidence of and data supporting their claims, clearly indicating that none had been forthcoming. Like their talk shows and whisper campaigns, their claims were, inter alia, of discrimination by the Government against African Guyanese.

Through the Ministry of Education, the Government provides several services to school children, their parents and teachers. And each and every such service is given equally and, as far as we can, equitably. Absolutely no discrimination happens in the provision of any service at this ministry and indeed none has been claimed by the users of the system, the actual stakeholders. That is not to say several prompts and similar wild claims by the Opposition have not been made but the citizenry has not succumbed.

As promised, we restored the ‘Because We Care’ cash grant. Every single child who attends school and is on the register is eligible. Conversely, when the APNU/AFC abolished that grant they said they would replace it with one of the 5 Bs-breakfast. You would be surprised that not a single child from Region 10, Essequibo, or the East Bank received said breakfast.

We launched the Breakfast for Success- Edutrition programme and all Coastland Grade 6 students receive this, in South Georgetown, in Canje, in Region 10, Region 2 …everywhere. In the hinterland, the children receive a hot meal.
We have printed and given a higher quality exercise book than was ever given and we have bought more textbooks than our country has ever bought. Each child received those in the same quantity regardless of which community their school resides.

We have begun to give school grants to each school to allow for independence and autonomy in the purchase of janitorial, office and field supplies. EVERY single school is getting this grant. In an aim for equity, the Hinterland schools are getting more per child with each in the hinterland and each school on the coastland receiving the same amount of money per child.

Resulting from conscious, deliberate action, for the first time ever there is no limit on the number of teachers we can train. We will graduate this year more than 2300 teachers, the largest batch ever to graduate in any given year anywhere in the Commonwealth Caribbean. All applicants who were eligible were admitted. Not a soul was turned away because of their ethnicity.
We have built, repaired and rehabilitated more than 1000 schools in the country in every area of this land. Indeed, only today I commissioned the Haslington Nursery School.

As promised, we offered Guyanese opportunities to study to achieve degrees, masters and Ph.D.s in renowned overseas Universities on the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL) and on Get Ready For Opportunities to Work (GROW). Not a single applicant was refused acceptance because of ethnicity and the pictures of the several graduating classes will evidence this.

We regularised the employment of sweeper cleaners in all schools moving them from being temporary workers to being contractual workers with benefits of gratuity, leave allowance certainty, etc. Each and every sweeper – African, Indian, Amerindian – cleaner was treated the same way.

Editor, I can go on and on and on. I invite anyone who wishes to check for themselves to see whether any policy at this Ministry or indeed any other, discriminates against any ethnicity.
This service, with equality and equity, has begun to show real results. In two years under the PPP/C, there are more children living at the Amerindian Dorms in Turkeyen attending the National Schools (QC, Bishops, St. Stanislaus, St. Rose’s, St. Joesph’s) than there were for all five years before that which means that more children than ever before from the Hinterland are able to excel at the primary exit. In the last NGSA result, there were more children from the public school system who earned the National schools than private school children.

At CXC more diversity was also seen in not only the top performers but in the percentage matriculation of schools in various communities. While the world continues to struggle with performance in Mathematics, and we are not exempt from that, Guyana recorded better performances by far this year with almost 700 candidates more than last year earning passes in Mathematics with Grades 1, 2 and 3.

In senior, impactful positions we have officers of every ethnicity, and particularly of African heritage, who were hired or retained by this Government, who dedicatedly serve Guyana daily. The APNU/AFC would never be able to make such a claim. We must be reminded also that it was the APNU/AFC who removed from their positions and posts Messrs. Olatocumbo Sam and Marcel Hutson and others, including some ordinary secretaries and office staff, but all African Guyanese who were, in the first place, hired or brought on into said senior positions by the PPP/C Government.

Editor, there is much to do in this beautiful land. And if indeed there is discrimination we must all shout it from the rooftop and fix it. But where there isn’t we must do as the congresspeople did: firmly dismiss those who trifle with our time and emotions using the tired old race card. This country, this generation won’t be pawns in that anachronistic game. There is no place for the lazy, backward, bigoted, race-baiting politics of the PNC/APNU/AFC.
Priya Manickchand
Minister of Education