THIS past week, while the political opposition continued their campaign with
various statements and actions, designed to obstruct government policies and programmes, the administration of President Donald Ramotar remained focused on initiatives to advance Guyana’s progress and improve the general welfare of the Guyanese people.
In this context, it is relevant to reference statements made during the week by at least three cabinet ministers pertaining to developments under their respective portfolios -- those of Finance; Culture, Youth and Sport; and Education.
Yesterday, Education Minister Priya Manickchand, in her official observance of United Nations-designated ‘International Literacy Day’, was proudly noting that Guyana has registered ‘a high literacy rate’ as a result of two ‘key conditions’, namely, “Political stability, and the absence of conflict in our society.”
The cynics may well be tempted to scoff at the minister’s contention in relation to an ‘absence of conflict’ when they could perhaps cite cases of sporadic political conflicts as emerged, for instance, just recently in Linden.
But this could be dismissed by more critical observers that the Education Minister was evidently taking a more global perspective on how deficiencies in the education sector in some UN member states could be traced to often bloody tribal, religious and/or political conflicts.
Minister Manickchand has called on Guyanese to avoid becoming self-satisfied with just the formal school system and, instead, exhibit interest in elevating literacy standards, nationally.
This could be enhanced, she feels, by cooperating with the UN new initiatives to promote literacy criteria as being encouraged by the new initiatives announced by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mark “International Literacy Day”.
Prior to the Education Minister’s observations on education and literacy, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr Frank Anthony, was formally handing over a cheque for G$5 million to the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA) in appreciation of the important role played by that NGO in helping to organise and host this year’s “Emancipation Day” celebrations.
Critics of ACDA, inclined to recall the rather sensational divisive position adopted by a leading figure of the organisation at the height of last November’s general election campaign, may wish to question the State’s financial contribution handed over by the minister to ACDA’s representative, Eric Phillips.
This, however, would be wrong and quite in conflict with the government’s policy to foster and encourage the development of the cultural aspirations of ALL segments of Guyanese society, consistent with our national motto: “One People, One Nation, One Destiny”
Minister Anthony noted at the cheque handing-over event, that during the period of ‘Emancipation Celebrations’, 45 other groups would have benefited from support provided by his ministry. He was personally pleased to note that the groups taking advantage of the assistance from the government have increased over the years.
News of an overall, encouraging dimension had earlier come from the Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh. He was quite happy to inform the nation that latest statistical data have revealed that Guyana continues to remain on the path of “positive economic growth”.
Dr Singh, primary bearer of encouraging national economic growth news for some five successive years, was reporting on a 2.8 per cent real growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at mid-year in 2012.
The Finance Minister told a media conference, hosted at the National Communications Network (NCN), that the 2.8 growth in GDP “reflects continued progress on the diversification of the productive sector, where we have now arrived a point where we were 10 years ago, entirely dependent on one, two or three dominant sectors…”
Those bent on sowing social and political divisions and, worse, spreading degrading falsehood and political hatred, with the intention of retarding Guyana’s continuing progressive strides, should perhaps pause and reflect on the need to pursue an alternative path for spreading harmony and tangible, practical national progress.