Ministry of Education, Guyana

Friday, 29 March 2019 11:33

Hope for youths

…President launches Guyana Youth Corps

…says move signals State’s full support their self-advancement

Amid much pomp and ceremony, hundreds of young Guyanese witnessed the historic launch of Guyana Youth Corps by President David Granger at Kuru Kuru on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway on Thursday.

The launch of the youth corps, President Granger said, is a signal to the country’s young people that their efforts at self-advancement will be supported fully by the State.
The Guyana Youth Corps (GYC) is designed to address social problems affecting youth such as unemployment, drugs and drug abuse, illiteracy and innumeracy, suicide, low self-esteem, teenage pregnancy and poor leadership skills. Its mission is to educate, train, empower and promote social cohesion among young people while contributing to the sustainable development of Guyana and its 20190401 4

In his address, which was preceded by cultural pieces, the Head of State said if Guyana is to fulfill its destiny as a land of opportunity and prosperity, it must harness the potential of its young people that make up a majority of the population. “This country will falter if its youth flounders; it will remain poor and undeveloped as long as its youth remain undeveloped,” the President warned.

Half of the country’s population is below the age of 24, and according to statistics, one in every five Guyanese is between the ages of 15 and 24. Emphasising that the enthusiasm and exuberance of the country’s young people cannot be restrained or repressed. President Granger assured those present that the corps will amplify their talents and expand the opportunities for 20190329 11

In a direct message to the hundreds of young Guyanese who travelled from all parts of the country to attend the launch, President Granger said the government is cognisant of the challenges they confront on a daily basis, and will continue to put programmes, projects and systems in place to remedy the situation.

“We acknowledged that the dropout rates from primary and secondary schools; the migration rate of university graduates; the rate of teenage pregnancies and the rate of youth incarceration – with more than 500 young people within our prisons and correctional institutions – These rates must be reduced and if possible, eliminated.”
“It is against this background that the government promulgated a draft National Youth Policy aimed at restoring hope to young people by facilitating their meaningful mobilisation and organisation,” the President said.

The draft National Youth Policy addresses four core areas – education, equality, empowerment and employment. The President said young people will not attain the “good life” unless they enjoy greater equality, have access to better education, are provided with expanded employment opportunities and are empowered to make decisions which determine their future. Education, equality, empowerment and employment are also the four pillars on which the Guyana Youth Corps will be built.

In addressing the state of education in Guyana, the Head of State noted that nine out of 10 primary-school children, in some administrative regions, fail English and Mathematics at the National Grade Six Assessment. Additionally, one in every three of the more than 12,000 students who sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations annually, fail English and more than five out of ten fail 20190329 14

In 2015, 28.3 per cent of the 8,430 public school students who wrote the CSEC examinations earned passes in five or more subjects, including mathematics and English. He said based on the statistics coming of the education sector, there is need for improvement, and the administration is taking critical steps to address the loopholes and challenges within the system.

“Your government is making interventions to reduce absenteeism and attrition and improve educational attainment. The Public Education Transport Service (PETS – known popularly as the 3Bs Initiative) – which provides free transportation by bus, boats and with bicycles – is making it easier for children to attend school. Teacher training is being improved through investments in better laboratories at the Cyril Potter College of Education and through the One Laptop per Teacher Initiative. Students are enjoying increased access to the Internet and to ICT laboratories,” he reported. According to him, young people will benefit from an efficient public education system as a result of these and other interventions.

President Granger, while noting that education and the promotion of equality go hand-in hand, said the youth Corps will contribute to eradicating the worst forms of inequality, including geographic, gender and racial inequality.

“The disparities in opportunity between the coastland and the hinterland and between urban and rural areas must be reduced and, eventually, eliminated if we are really to create one nation; a nation of equal people. The gender gap must be closed by ensuring that girls and boys are given equal access to education and training,” he further stated while emphasising that economic development and social equity cannot be nurtured in an environment of inequality.

At Kuru-Kuru, which will be the home of the Guyana Youth Corps campus, students will be trained in an equitable and cohesive environment. The development of teaching and training techniques and curricula will inculcate respect for the law and individual rights.
He posited that the government is already creating a fairer, friendlier framework for ensuring greater equality through improved access to public services such as business registration, immigration, legal services, public education, public health, public information, public infrastructure, public security, public telecommunications, electricity and 20190329 12

It was noted that the programme, which will attract thousands of Guyanese, will help to eliminate poverty and reduce income inequalities. The programme comes at a time when the country is on the verge of experiencing high levels of economic growth with the advent of petroleum production which will create a window of opportunities and a higher demand for skilled individuals, and the youth corps will contribute by augmenting the repertoire and repository of skills in every sector.

Added to that, the Guyana Youth Corps will encourage students to play a greater role in decision-making by exposing them to programmes which entail capacity-building, mentorship, entrepreneurial training and seed capital for income generation, including self-employment.

President Granger said the Local Government Elections, held twice in four years, created a platform for young people to empower themselves and advance their leadership skills, and the youth corps will provide another avenue for such.

He explained that the corps will expose students to Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED); Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS); and the Youth Innovation Project of Guyana (YIPoG) and other programmes.
“The corps will help to augment recreational and sports facilities and playgrounds across the country and support the arts, cultural and sporting activities which are catalysing the creativity and rich talents of our young people,” he added.

Using the skills acquired from the corps, more young Guyanese will be able to gain employment, which for now remains a sore area of concern. Youth unemployment averaged more than 20 per cent between 2007 and 2017, according to the International Labour Organisation. Youth unemployment, as at December 2017, stood at 22.9 per cent. One in every three young persons, between the ages of 15 and 24, is not in an educational institution, employment or in training (NEET), the President detailed. He said the situation is unacceptable but assured that the youth corps will aid in turning the situation around.

“The corps will provide the re-training needed to improve the ‘marketability’ of those school graduates who do not leave school with satisfactory qualifications and to make easier the transition between school and the workforce,” President Granger said.

The Youth Corps is an initiative and institution aimed at ensuring that young people are equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to become productive citizens. It was inaugurated on January 1, 1968 by the government of the day based on the report of Robert. F Landor, a United Nations consultant. Landor submitted the report after examining the problem of poverty and vocational education in the mid-1960s in the aftermath of the communal violence of the immediate pre-Independence period.

Minister of Social Cohesion with responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. George Norton echoed similar sentiments, and called on the nation’s youth to embrace the corps.
President David Granger and Minister Norton were joined by Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock; Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams; Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry; Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan; Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally; Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, among other ministers and senior government officials. A plaque was unveiled by the President and his ministers to mark the occasion.


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