Fifty-eight completes public service training programme -as Government moves to create a professional public service

Georgetown, Guyana – (December 18, 2017) President David Granger, today, urged graduates of the Bertram Collins College of the Public Service (BCCPS) to be politically neutral and to provide the best technical advice to whichever political party is in power. “The public service is required to act without ‘fear or favour, affection or ill will’ towards the public in the performance of his or her duties, that is what it means to be a professional,” he said at the College’s inaugural graduation ceremony at Ogle, where 58 young Guyanese successfully completed a one-year training programme designed to create a cadre of professional public officers.

President David Granger and the Bertram Collins College of the Public Service’s graduating class of 2017.

He also urged the graduating class to let their training at the College serve as a stepping stone to higher learning; noting Guyana’s development demands a public service that is educated, motivated and organised. The Head of State noted that simply walking off the street and passing a job interview is not enough and the Government aims to have public servants that possess intelligence, integrity, impartiality and identity; qualities that are the hallmark of professionalism.

President Granger said that graduation of this inaugural cohort of public servants marks an important landmark in the Government of Guyana’s quest for a public service that is professional and ‘unbribable’ and which is equipped to provide efficient services to the Guyanese population. He noted that his Administration’s decision to establish this institution a little over two years ago was deliberate.

“The establishment of this College was essential to ensure the efficient delivery of public services such as public education, public health, public infrastructure, public security, public telecommunications and the Public Service, itself… The Public Service is inseparable from the executive; it is the Public Service, which must implement the directives and decisions of the Cabinet and the Government. Graduation from this College, therefore, is just the commencement of the process of to ensure that the public interest is well served,” the President said.

Senior Executive Director of the Bertram Collins College of the Public Service, Col (ret’d) Lawrence Paul delivering his annual report.

Speaking of the mandate of public servants, he said that Ministers and Heads of agencies must be able to rely on their staff for strong administrative and other forms of support. As such, he said that the College must inculcate comprehension of the provisions of the Constitution of Guyana and the system of public administration at all three tiers of government; the central, regional and municipal and local levels. Additionally, they must understand the diversity of the country’s landscape throughout the 10 Administrative Regions and the challenges of administering services to the 215 hinterland communities. Moreover, with the establishment of new capital towns and decentralisation of vital public services, the need for a high level of competency in the public service is now greater than ever.

“Providing public services will be impossible unless public servants understand the country in which they live and appreciate the needs of the citizens to whom they must provide services. Public servants must possess an understanding, also, of the values and standards of the Service. These values and standards contribute to the functional competence of the Service, foster teamwork [and] promote leadership,” the President said.

These sentiments were shared by Senior Executive Director of the College, Col. (ret’d) Lawrence Paul, who said that the mission of the College is to develop a dynamic public service with the appropriate knowledge and skills to meet the everyday challenges in public administration and to perform their duties diligently in the best interest of the Government of the day and society at large.

The one-year programme includes six months of theoretical work in classrooms, where 17 modules of academic study were done, a one-month study tour and four months of work attachment to various ministries and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils. Accreditation for the College from the University of Guyana is currently being pursued. Additionally, an official Act for the College has been ratified by the Ministry of Legal Affairs and will be tabled early next year in Parliament. This will allow the institution to become an autonomous entity.

Col. Paul also informed that a permanent, state-of-the-art structure will be erected to house the institution at Ogle, which will be funded by a US$10M grant from the People’s Republic of China.

In November, the Ministry of the Presidency visited the College to observe one of the lecture sessions and spoke to some of the students, who graduated today. Ms. Omawattie Ashmit, a graduate, said that her time at the College has given her a wealth of knowledge on the inner workings of the public service of Guyana. “It has been a privilege to be a cadet in the first batch of this College. We did courses like stress and anger management and ethical consideration and customer service. Those two stood out to me because in our daily lives we meet different persons and different personalities and to be a part of the public service you need to know those things,” she said.

Mr. Ato Vaughn, who was named best graduating student said that said that as a young adult, he was in the phase of his life where he was trying to figure out who he is and what he wants to do in terms of a career. He said that when this opportunity came along, he seized it since he believes that this is an ideal way of giving of his service to his country.

Vaughn benefitted from work-study attachment in the Ministry of Agriculture’s personnel department. “That environment was very friendly; it was a learning environment and they were willing to assist me at every point. There was a period when I was in charge of a lot of work and I did make some mistakes but I grew from that,” he said. Today, Mr. Vaughn was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence, which includes a laptop computer, a certificate, a printer, a plaque and a $20,000 book voucher.

Meanwhile, Ms. Ashmina Hassan, another graduate, said that, “This was a very new learning experience, one that anyone would look forward to because it allows you to be yourself and its motivating and it inspires you to become that change that is needed in the public service.”

The College, which is the brainchild of President Granger, was named in honour of Dr. Bertram Collins, a Guyanese international scholar and writer in the field of public administration.

Minister of Public Service, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine, Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, Minister of Public Security, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan, Minister of Public Health, Ms. Volda Lawrence, Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Noel Holder and Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton were all in attendance at the ceremony.

Best graduating student of the Bertram Collins College of the Public Service for 2017, Mr. Ato Vaughn being presenting with the President’s Award for Excellence plaque.

President David Granger handing over a plaque Senior Executive Director of the Bertram Collins College of the Public Service, Col (ret’d) Lawrence Paul on which the names of the best graduating students will be inscribed.