THE ATTITUDE OF THE ADMINISTRATION TO THE CRISIS FACING YOUTHS--PRESS STATEMENT Friday 22 October 2010




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR wishes to express our condolences to the sorrowing family, relatives and friends of Mr. Harold L.B. Singh of Port Mourant Village, Corentyne, Berbice;
• It is anticipated that, following the approval of the recommendations from the Central Executive Committee, the General Council would give directions for the implementation of the process for the election of the Party’s Presidential Candidate for the 2011 National and Regional Elections;
• The Minister of Education has failed to realistically examine the application of the education policies and the management and administrative capabilities of his Ministry to efficiently implement and monitor all the policy interventions;
• The ‘Trained Teacher’s Certificate’ programme has been discontinued; hence many would not be able to become trained teachers, which might eventually cost them their jobs;
• The PNCR calls on the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr Frank Anthony to deal decisively with the crisis facing young persons in Guyana today;
• NIS is claiming that unless the medical condition was a “pre-existing condition”, that is, the condition was being treated before the NIS contributor started obtaining his/her pension, a pensioner would not qualify for a refund;
• The PNCR urges all Guyanese, especially the unregistered young people of fourteen (14) years and above, to take advantage of this opportunity to become registered.

MESSAGE OF CONDOLENCES ON THE PASSING OF MR. HAROLD L. B. SINGH

The People’s National Congress Reform wishes to express our condolences to the sorrowing family, relatives and friends of Mr. Harold L.B. Singh of Port Mourant Village, Corentyne, Berbice.

Mr. Harold Singh served the PNC as a Regional Supervisor in the East Berbice, Corentyne Region #4, as it then was, during the decade 1970-1980, and was later elected as a Member of Parliament for the PNC, in December 1980, where he served until December 1985.

During his Parliamentary service Mr. Singh was appointed Minister of State (Finance), from May 1983 to June 1984, and Minister of State (Regional Development) from June 1984 to December 1985.

May God grant him a merciful judgment and may his soul rest in peace.


PNCR’S FINAL GENERAL COUNCIL FOR 2010

The Final Quarterly General Council Meeting, of the People’s National Congress Reform, for the year 2010, is to be held on Saturday 23rd October 2010.

As is a usual feature, of General Council, presentations will be made by the Party Chairman, Mr Bishwaishwar “Cammie” Ramsaroop, the General Secretary, Mr Oscar Clarke, and the PNCR Leader, Mr. Robert Herman Orlando Corbin.

The Report of the General Secretary will deal essentially with activities of the Party since the last General Council, both centrally and regionally, while those of the Chairman and the Party Leader will deal with issues of a policy nature, internal to the Party as well as of a National Character.

Of special significance, at this General Council Meeting, would be the consideration of the recommendations, which the Central Executive Committee was mandated to submit to this meeting of the General Council, proposing the criteria to be met, and process to be employed, for the election of the Party’s Presidential Candidate for the 2011 National and Regional Elections.

It is anticipated that, following the approval of the recommendations from the Central Executive Committee, the General Council would give directions for the implementation of the process for the election of the Party’s Presidential Candidate for the 2011 National and Regional Elections.

WHEN WILL THE ADMINISTRATION IMPROVE THE EDUCATION SYSTEM IN GUYANA?

Every day, we note in the media claims, by spokespersons for the Administration, about achievements and interventions to improve the education system in Guyana. No doubt, this is part of the electioneering propaganda of the Government. However, the Guyanese people are sufficiently conscious, from their daily experience of the failures of the education system, that they are not fooled by such propaganda.

The Minister of Education has failed to realistically examine the application of the education policies and the management and administrative capabilities of his Ministry to efficiently implement and monitor all the policy interventions. Flowery speeches cannot be a substitute for practical measures to remedy the badly impaired education system. STOP THE EMPTY PROMISES!

The problem of the inadequacy of school furniture is a grave one. Where is the wisdom in constructing new school buildings and holding impressive opening ceremonies when the ability to provide adequate furniture, for these schools, is deficient. It is evident that there are problems with the corrupt allocations of contracts to build school furniture and the questionable ability of many of these contractors to fulfil the quality and timely delivery requirements of these contracts. The provision of adequate furniture is an important prerequisite for learning to take place.

Education month, under its child friendly theme, cannot be taken seriously when the state of classrooms are examined. How can the Minister speak of child friendly schools, improvement of facilities and results, yet the nation’s children continue to suffer the discomfort of no proper desks or benches?

The recent Spring tides flooded the Vreed-en-Hoop Secondary School compound leaving it in a filthy state. As a result classes had to be suspended and the school was only re-opened after it was sanitized to the satisfaction of the parents.

Some days later the parents of the students of Ann’s Grove Secondary caused classes at that school to be suspended because of the deplorable state of the building, the compound and the furniture. Almost immediately, new furniture was delivered to the school. This delivery only gave the teachers a greater headache in finding space to put same.

At both schools the in-sanitary state of the compounds were highlighted. The school compound of Ann’s Grove Secondary needs to be built up so as to get rid of the stagnant water and the green moss in the yard.

There are also currently problems at the West Ruimveldt Primary School, where, in addition to the usual physical and sanitary conditions, two of their experienced teachers have been arbitrarily transferred to Region 9, and if they don’t take up the transfer, they will be asked to leave the profession.

The PNCR calls on the officials of the Ministry of Education to pay more attention to the physical conditions of the schools since this could affect the health of the country’s most valuable assets, the children.

The poor record of timeliness with which maintenance work to school buildings is completed continues to provide evidence of poor planning by this Government. On too many occasions children return to the opening of a new school year, after the long vacation, only to be met with poor physical and environmental conditions. Since education is decentralised, it should not be too difficult to manage the logistics, if disbursement of the required funds is done on a timely basis. We, therefore, wish to call on the Minister of Education and the Minister of Local Government to coordinate the management and implementation of school repair programmes.

The need to improve literacy and numeracy in our country cannot be overemphasised. One of the recent interventions was to organise remedial teaching for children during the August vacation. This is mid-October and those teachers have not been remunerated for this special effort. Is this a good sign of encouragement? The Minister of Education must understand that empty promises undermines confidence, therefore, he should ensure that teachers, who made sacrifices during the August vacation, are adequately rewarded and soon. We hope too that there is a programme in place to check on the effectiveness of the six weeks experiment.

The PNCR wishes to call on the acting C.E.O., Mr. Roopnarine Tiwari, to desist from terrorising senior education officers and interfering in the management of the education system. Professionalism must take precedence over political posturing. Our children deserve to be better prepared to contribute to the development of our country.

THE TRAINED TEACHER SHORTAGE

More sensitive attention must be paid to the problems being faced by the teachers, the valuable human resources foundation for the education system.

More than a year ago the untrained teachers, who operate within the school system, were issued with letters which made it clear that if they did not upgrade their status and become ‘trained teachers’ by a particular time, they would be asked to leave the system. Many were able to access some upgrading programmes offered by the Adult Education Association (AEA) and the Institute of Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE) and so were accepted at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) for training. Others took the opportunity to upgrade their qualifications within the year and so applied for entry to CPCE.

The notice for applications, which was published in the daily newspapers, indicated that upgrades, from both the AEA and IDCE programmes, will be acceptable.

It is now clear that there are a large number of teachers, who operate within the system, who will not be able to access training at the CPCE because there is now a new programme – the Associate Degree in Education (ADE) - which will be launched sometime next week. The qualifications for entry to the ADE are much higher than what some of our current teachers possess and as such they have been excluded.

The ‘Trained Teacher’s Certificate’ programme has been discontinued; hence many would not be able to become trained teachers, which might eventually cost them their jobs.

The PNCR calls on the Minister of Education and the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) to intervene in the interest of those teachers who have served in the education system for a number of years.

THE ATTITUDE OF THE ADMINISTRATION TO THE CRISIS FACING YOUTHS

It is evident to all Guyanese, except, apparently, the Administration, that the youths of Guyana are facing a serious crisis.

The Report of the Caribbean Community’s Commission on Youth Development entitled, ‘Eye on the Future: Invest in Youth Now for the Community Tomorrow’, observed, among other things, that the primary education dropout rate was “at a staggering height.” The Report added that, at an average of 23 per cent, youth unemployment in the Caribbean Community was higher than in many other countries. The nexus between joblessness and juvenile crime is unquestionable.

The Report pointed to the fact that murder rates in the Caribbean, at 30 per 100,000 annually, are higher than any other region of the world. Youths are the primary perpetrators and victims of criminal violence.

Juvenile crime carries heavy economic costs, which include the direct financial costs related to public expenditure on security, policing, judicial processing and incarceration, as well as indirect costs, linked to the foregone earnings of the criminal, losses in tourism revenues and missed investment opportunities due to investor reluctance to invest in an environment which is perceived to be unsafe.

The People’s National Congress Reform calls on the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr Frank Anthony, to deal decisively with the crisis facing young persons in Guyana today.

Dr. Anthony, under questioning, in the National Assembly, by PNCR spokesperson for Youth and Sport, Ms Africo Selman, during the 2010 examination of the National Budget Estimates, admitted that, from a survey done by the Ministry of Health, it was found that young persons were engaged in unsafe and undesirable sexual practices placing them at risk and that more than 50 per cent were found to have consumed alcohol. Dr Anthony also admitted that the existing National Youth Policy, of the Administration, is outdated. Nearly eight months have passed since the admission by Dr Anthony but there is still no trace of a new National Youth Policy.

On their accession to Government the PPP/C Administration abolished the Guyana National Service and, in its place, introduced a number of schemes that have turned out to be primarily political gimmicks which have provided more opportunities for cronies to benefit from leakages from the public purse. The PPP/C schemes include: the President’s Youth Award Republic of Guyana; the National Training Programme for Youth Empowerment; the Youth Development and Empowerment Programme; the President’s Youth Choice Initiative; and the Young Entrepreneurial Skills Training programme.

Not surprisingly, since they were, in most cases, not adequately thought out and effectively managed, these schemes have all failed to make any significant impact on the problem of high youth unemployment. They were never designed to absorb the high number of young persons who drop out of school every year or intended to reach into the rural communities which suffer most from poor education and the absence of employment opportunities.

The PNCR calls on the PPP/C Administration to put the interests of Guyanese youth before political posturing and empty propaganda by re-establishing the Guyana National Youth Service to give young people, who leave the formal education system, the opportunity to resume schooling and to be better prepared to enter the world of work.

When will the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport promulgate a new National Youth Policy that is capable of bringing an end to the crisis facing young persons in Guyana today?

NIS CESSATION OF THE SUPPLY OF MEDICATION TO PENSIONERS

Until recently National Insurance Scheme (NIS) pensioners, senior citizens, were entitled to benefit from a facility whereby, on selected days, they could uplift all of their medications, free of cost to themselves. Given the high costs of many of these medications and the problems encountered for sourcing these medications, this service was convenient and of immense value and benefit for the recipient pensioners.

The NIS is now insisting that those pensioners should do the following: obtain a prescription from their Doctor, on each occasion; purchase the medications from their own resources; submit a claim along with the receipt for their purchases; and then await NIS approval for a refund. In addition, the NIS is claiming that unless the medical condition was a “pre-existing condition”, that is, the condition was being treated before the NIS contributor started obtaining his/her pension, the pensioner would not qualify for a refund.

It is evident that this is a cost cutting arrangement by the NIS. However, given the meagre pensions being received; the high cost of many of these medications; and the high cost-of-living, including the cost of transportation to go searching for the medications; pensioners, who have already been driven to the poverty line, have to suffer the further privation imposed to facilitate cost cutting by the NIS.

While we are nationally recognising Senior Citizens Month, in recognition of the elderly men and women who have given yeoman service and contributed to the development of our country, they are deliberately being penalised for the financial misadventures of the NIS and its involvement with CLICO, the Berbice River Bridge, and the New Building Society (NBS).

Is this the behaviour of a Government which is claiming that it is a caring Government?

PNCR AGAIN URGES ALL GUYANESE TO BE REGISTERED

The Continuous Registration programme, being undertaken by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), commenced on 6th September 2010 and is expected to conclude on 31 December 2010.

Persons wishing to register are reminded that they would require an original Birth Certificate as the major source document for registration.

The PNCR urges all Guyanese, especially the unregistered young people of fourteen (14) years and above, to take advantage of this opportunity to become registered. If you were unable to register during the House-to-House Registration programme, you should visit the GECOM Office in your District with your source documents to ensure that you are registered on this occasion.

There are still many persons who were registered, during the House-to-House Registration programme, and have not yet collected their new National ID Cards. The Party urges you to do so without undue delay.

We know that many persons have complained that the photograph appearing on their new ID Card is unsatisfactory or that there are errors, such as the incorrect spelling of names or other defects. The PNCR advises those persons that GECOM has undertaken to replace unsatisfactory photographs and to correct other defects. Therefore, those persons are advised to take their new ID Card to the nearest GECOM Office and have them correct the defects on the new ID Card.

Remember that Registration is your right and duty!


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 22 October 2010

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