Press Statement By the People’s National Congress Reform Hall Of Heroes, Congress Place Sophia, Thursday, June 9, 2005




SUMMARY:
 The Government Must Implement a Proper Development Plan for Buxton and other Villages;
 The education system cannot be a partisan matter or one in which we can afford the luxury of name calling and callous indifference.
 The PNCR calls on the Government to ensure that all affected persons benefit from its flood relief programme;
 Mr. R.H.O. Corbin will lead a PNCR Delegation to visit The People’s Republic of China from the 9th to 18th June, 2005 at the invitation of the Communist party of China

THE GOVERNMENT MUST IMPLEMENT A PROPER DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR BUXTON AND OTHER VILLAGES

The PNCR remains deeply concerned about the serious security situation in Guyana, which is further complicated by the continuous escalation of the narcotics trade. The recent disappearance of two sugar workers on the lower East Coast of Demerara and the failure of the security forces to locate them after several operations are clear indications that there is need for a proper crime reduction plan which to date the Jagdeo Government has failed to successfully produce. Instead the PPP/C Administration seems bent on playing petty politics with the crime situation rather than behaving as a responsible Government. There is no doubt that the number one priority for most Guyanese is security. Wild and unsubstantiated allegations and accusations will not solve our crime situations. What is required are positive programs specifically designed to address this problem.

The PNCR has always been willing and continues to be willing to support any constructive crime reduction plan but it is the duty of the Government to have one. Constructive suggestions by the PNCR in the past have been ignored and sometimes ridiculed. Nearly three years ago the late Leader of the PNCR proposed a plan to deal with the situation in the East Coast village of Buxton which could have been applied to other communities. Hoyte had suggested that a few million dollars be allocated to rehabilitate the dilapidated infrastructure at the back of that village so that the lands could be cultivated by the several hundred unemployed youth. Today, three years later, had that plan been implemented, the backlands of Buxton would not have been an area of security interest, but of Agricultural production and several young people would have been productively engaged. Instead of acting on Mr. Hoyte’s proposal, President Jagdeo accused him of holding the Nation to ransom. Now after three years the same President is talking about using taxpayers’ money to clear the backlands of Buxton for security purposes. Without infrastructure to drain the lands effectively no effective use can be made of those lands and the naïve plan of Jagdeo will result in continuous expenditure on land clearing for security purposes without any productive activity. Such is the shortsighted vision of the present Administration. The PNCR however feels that, in the context of recent developments, it is not too late to implement the Hoyte plan. In this regard we call on President Jagdeo to act responsibly. By enabling the backlands of Buxton to become productive the security issue as well as the unemployment issue could be simultaneously addressed. This plan is not restricted to Buxton and can be applied to many other villages where thousands of our young people remain idle. To this end the PNCR is willing to support any Government initiatives.

Meanwhile the PNCR takes this opportunity to again urge our security forces to vigorously pursue the task of finding the two missing sugar workers.

EDUCATION IN CRISIS

The PNCR wishes to reiterate its concerns about the apparent lack of direction and focus of the government on the issues facing the education sector. This is not merely a social sector which exists for our benefit and enjoyment but a crucial part of Guyana’s chances of economic recovery. Without an education system capable of generating the quality and quantity of skilled persons which Guyana needs, we will be less and less competitive in the regional and world economies. Without a credible and quality education system, the incentive will increase for more and more of our skilled professionals to leave in an effort to safeguard the future of their children.

The education system cannot be a partisan matter or one in which we can afford the luxury of name calling and callous indifference. What is at stake is the very future of Guyana. It is from this position that the PNCR is forced to comment yet again on certain disturbing trends and directions in our education system. We will give a few examples to illustrate our concerns.

 We have over the years been expressing our concerns at the shortage of trained and experienced teachers in vital subjects in our school curriculum and the absence of any clear and viable plan to cope with the situation. The modern language teaching of Spanish and French which are so vital for a work force in a global age is a dying art. The teaching of Portuguese for obvious reasons is dead in the water. Now we are advised that our History, Geography and Social Studies in the secondary schools are endangered emphases. A country which produces graduates who are ill equipped in languages is outdated. A country ill equipped in the study of history and social studies is cultivating backwardness which will further encourage lack of national spirit and patriotism. It is ironic that we are celebrating the life of Walter Rodney at a time when the history curriculum is fighting for survival

 The PNCR has consistently pointed out in Parliament and in other public fora that the mistaken emphasis, in the Secondary Schools Reform Programme (SSRP) programme which the PPP/C implemented on its accession to office, was misguided and antiquated. It was based on the assumption that all secondary children need and should be offered an academic education. This programme has succeeded in producing a large number of frustrated parents and children who are forced to pursue an academic programme not suited to the interests or gifts of the children. Just as seriously, it has resulted in a de-emphasis of the pre-vocational and vocational curriculum at a time when the rest of the Caribbean has been making strides in innovative and creative ways of preparing the non academic child for the work force as a useful and skilled individual. The government has not treated this matter as one of urgency and the resulting frustration of children parents and teachers alike will create many problems for the nation.

 The PNCR has received some disturbing reports on the way the National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD) is being reorganized and the peculiar way in which some decisions are being made at that institution; for example, we have received reports that the Ministry organized a training programme in Measurement and Evaluation with CXC and then proceeded to ignore those persons trained for the requirement to the highly paid positions in NCERD. We are advised that cronies of persons highly placed in the system were brought in to fill these positions. We will investigate these and other matters which have had a very dampening effect on members of the teaching profession and bring to the attention of the public any irregularities found.

 The PNCR has been monitoring the reforms to the system of measurement and evaluation in the primary sector and we are satisfied that the anxieties of some parents, about the integrity of these exercises and the resulting opportunity for irregularity and discrimination in the selection of students for placement in secondary schools, are justified. If one accepts the fact that the Ministry cannot at the moment guarantee the integrity of the examination process in the internationally based Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams and has yet to ensure that the perpetrators of irregularity have been charged under the CXC Act, we must ask the government to take a second look lest the admission to secondary schools become mired in corruption.

 It appears that the government has derived no plan or measures to retain trained teachers in Guyana or to increase the proportion of experienced teachers in vital areas. An increase in the numbers being trained will only increase the supply to the Bahamas and further afield. It is universally accepted that the basis of educational turn around will rest primarily on the quality of tracers available in the system. It is not acceptable that the government should allow the system to continue to decay without any response.

 There is the alarming development of an unregulated tertiary sector which offers parallel and often inferior qualifications to those already offered by existing institutions including the university. We note that the accreditation council has started operations which is an encouraging sign but that is not enough. The government should have a policy for higher and distance education which gives clear guidance to prospective students and employers. Recent events where a so-called university has collapsed without notice is a good example of the dangers we face.

 It is ironic that with all these problems and issues facing the nation, the most important innovation emerging from the government is an attempt to remove the photograph of former President Burnham from its proud place at the President’s College. This attempt to rewrite history is intended to distract us from the real issues facing us and a disregard for history and the need to give honour where it is due. Mr. Burnham was a President of Guyana, he publicly and consistently identified with the college as an educational experiment and the fact that another political party is in office at this time is a complete irrelevance. We were impressed by the sensitivity and cultural maturity of the students of the college and wish to make it clear that the PNCR will take a firm position on any attempt at repeating this insult at President’s College or anywhere else in Guyana.

FLOOD UPDATE

The Secretariat responsible for the flood relief has now reported that the data collection is completed. This could hardly be the case if the President’s original promise is to be fulfilled. The President promised that all of the affected persons would have received some relief, however, in registering persons for residential relief the Secretariat by passed certain areas in Georgetown, West Demerara, and the East Bank on the pretext that only persons, who were under water for two weeks or more are to benefit from the residential relief effort. This is a clear breach of promise. The President, after much urging on the part of the PNCR, reluctantly promised that all affected persons would benefit from the relief support. What is the difference between persons, whose property was damaged during the first few days of the flood before the waters receded and those who suffered from a prolonged period of flood? The reality is that damage to property was suffered essentially during the first days of the flood. The PNCR insists that all affected persons should receive the relief. In any case, the sum of 10,000 dollars cannot indemnify anyone for the material loss, which they suffered as a consequence of the flood.

The treatment of the small businesses, cash crop farmers and livestock rearers has been no different. They have fallen victim to criteria, which exclude many who in absolute terms were worse hit because of the smallness and subsistence nature of their undertaking. They are impoverished and cannot make a start without assistance and yet they are the ones, who have been eliminated by the criteria, which the Government has established. There is much to be done in fulfillment of the Government’s flood relief promises. There is even more to be done to ensure that all affected persons are provided with some form of relief. The Government is called upon to act on these matters. The PNCR will certainly not let these shortcomings go unheeded.

PNCR LEADER AND DELEGATION TO VISIT THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA

PNCR Leader, Mr. R.H.O. Corbin will lead a Party Delegation on a visit to The People’s Republic of China from the 9th to 18th June, 2005 at the invitation of the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC). During the visit it is expected that the delegation will hold discussions with senior officials of the CPC, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Members of the delegation include, Ms. Clarissa Riehl MP, PNCR Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Dr. George Norton MP, Director Hinterland Affairs, Ms. Supriya Singh, Director Public Relations and Mr. Ronald Austin, Head Party Overseas Liaison Desk.

During Mr. Corbin’s absence from the Country, Chairman of the Party, Mr. Winston Murray MP, will carry out the functions of Leader of the Party.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, June 09, 2005