The Guyana Youth and Student Movement (GYSM), the youth arm of the People’s National Congress Reform held its National Youth Convention on Saturday 14th May 2011 at Congress Place, Sophia, Georgetown. This Convention, under the theme, “Youth Position to lead in 2011 and beyond”, was convened for the purpose of mobilising our youth for their role and participation in the upcoming National and Regional Elections. This Convention brought together youth from the ten (10) Regions of Guyana.

In welcoming the participants, the National Chairperson of the GYSM, Mr. Christopher Jones acknowledged that the convention was organized and fashioned to ensure that the youth who are the present and the future, contribute to the formulation and later implementation of programmes that will shape their lives. He noted too that the PNCR has always emphasized its commitment to youth development and getting youths involved in charting their own destiny. Mr. Jones urged the participants of the Convention to carry the torch of change for Guyana and to do everything to get all and sundry to registered and turn out and vote on Election Day.

In his Opening Remarks, Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, Mr. Robert Corbin, M.P., said that the destiny of Guyana lay in the hands of Guyana’s youths. After outlining the historical contribution of David Granger to the development of Guyana, he emphasized that David Granger has the capacity to lead the country and its youth and he is confident that David Granger will give leadership that Guyana needs to ensure a bright and prosperous future. The PNCR Leader in a very agitated tone informed the young people that the Government continues to deny citizens the right to freedom of expression and there is currently a conspiracy to again close down CNS Channel 6 owned by Leader of the Justice For All Party (JFAP) Mr. C.N. Sharma. Mr. Corbin said that the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) that has been functioning illegally for the last 8 years is now in cahoots with the unconstitutional Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) and its leader Juan Edghill to once again deprive citizens of their constitutional right to freedom of expression. He was adamant that the PPP and Jagdeo must not be allowed to get away with it and urged the young people to understand the importance of Freedom of Expression and be willing to fight for it.

The feature presentation was delivered by Brigadier (rtd) David Granger, who in his address, first and foremost noted that the GYSM Convention was probably the largest and only observance of the International Year for the Youth (IYY). He noted too that youths must choose whether the country will be reborn or whether it will continue to languish over the next five years when the observance of the 45th Anniversary of Independence was only 12 days away. This would be the occasion for the 50th Independence Anniversary is observed.

After nineteen years in office, the PPP/C administration is still unable to produce a National Youth Policy and a David Granger Administration will rectify that shortcoming.
The Presidential candidate noted that the youths were the ones with the imagination to innovate, initiate and investigate; with the interest to communicate, network share and exchange ideas through the new media such as facebook; with the independence to explore, travel ‘lime’ and hang out and with the intuition, energy, passion to propel change and pursue their personal goals.

Granger lamented, however, that youths in Guyana today were challenged by an Education system that was inappropriate and that resulted in a high rate of illiterates and dropouts from the school system. He pointed out, also, that employment that was unsatisfactory or unattainable for many with an jobless rate among the youths that is double that of the adults as over 23 % of our young people are unemployed. There was also arrested access to empowerment brought about by biased state-controlled media that distorted public information.
Granger noted that, historically, youth enjoyed a place of prominence in Guyanese political and social life. He recalled PNC Founder Leader Forbes Burnham ensured the ‘Youth Week’ was ritually observed with educational tours, exhibition, cultural festivals and sports contests. As part of his policy towards youth, he appointed many young persons – including Vincent Alexander, Oscar Clarke, Robert Corbin, Jeffrey Thomas and Ron Saunders – to high office as ministers and general managers.
Granger accused the PPP/C administration of dodging its duty to protect Indigenous girls and young women who continue to be exploited and trafficked in the hinterland. He said that it was the PNCR’s obligation to take the first step to reduce crime and violence and to protect their sisters in the hinterland.

Granger called on the youths to start what he called the “Get Ten Movement.” This meant that each delegate to the Youth Convention was asked to recruit ten persons who had never voted before to get registered to vote in the forthcoming elections.

The Panel Discussion which focused on ‘Difficulties and Solutions’ was chaired by PNCR Campaign Director Joe Harmon and included Member of the Central Executive Alan Monroe and GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander.
During the workshops it was discovered that challenges faced and being ignored by Government include flooding, poor health systems, human rights violations, the lack of freedom of expression, poor education and culture systems and corruption.

The Convention ended with the Charge to participants by Ms. Vanessa Kissoon M.P who stated that youths must be responsible and exercise their rights. She charged them to be educated and use the power of choice as that is the road to securing a future.

Guyana Youth and Student Movement (GYSM)
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Saturday 14th May 2011