Govt removing disparities among the Indigenous – President Granger

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– Heritage Month officially launched

DPI, Guyana, Saturday, September 1, 2018

Guyanese of all ethnicities today, flocked the Heritage Village at the Sophia Exhibition Centre to witness the official launch of Indigenous Heritage Month 2018. This year’s observance is being celebrated under the theme ‘Proud of our Indigenous identity – celebrating in unity.’

Delivering the feature address at the launch, President David Granger spoke of the measures the government is taking, to eliminate any inequalities that exist amongst the indigenous population.

The Head of State noted that the 10-point plan for the hinterland, which was unveiled in 2015 and focuses on economic opportunities, education, poverty reduction, jobs and land issues, is still relevant today. This plan, he said, has guided the government’s conduct and policies to empower the indigenous peoples.

“…We believe that education is the surest and fittest way of eliminating those inequalities. The government, therefore, is taking steps to improve hinterland education access, attendance and attainment. Access to hinterland education is evident in the construction, extension, repairs and renovation and improvement of schools and dormitories at Asakata, Bartica, Bina Hill, Itabac, Kato, Kamarang, Kamwatta, Katoka, Nappi, Port Kaituma, Santa Rosa, Waramadong and Warapoka.”

School attendance has increased as a result of the Hinterland School Feeding Programme and transportation, the president noted. Daily school supplies were provided to 25,843 students from 204 primary schools in 2017, and the Three-Bs programme has distributed countrywide, 28 buses, seven boats, and 1,111 bicycles to provide transportation free of cost to students, many of whom reside in the hinterland.

“The performance gap between coastland and the hinterland is gradually being closed,” President Granger emphasized.

566 hinterland students received scholarships last year, 73 of whom has been able to commence studies at higher institutes of learning on the coast. Teachers’ training has also been intensified, the mathematics programme initiated and literacy coordinators are providing on the spot guidance to hinterland teachers.

The Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS) Programme has also trained thousands of youths in economic enterprises and grants have been provided to 3,795 young persons, simulating 2000 small business.

Village administration is also being stimulated and village economies being boosted through the Presidential grant and support in agriculture and Agro-processing, tourism among other programmes.

In his remarks, Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock charged the Indigenous peoples to use the month’s celebration, as a period to reflect on both their successes and shortcomings and use it a catalyst to work together for the development of their respective communities.

Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe paid homage to the late Stephen Campbell, the first Indigenous member of parliament who lobbied for the recognition of Amerindian land rights.

She explained that Campbell sought to ensure that the Indigenous Peoples’ had rights to lands, before and even after Guyana’s independence. Today, she said the Coalition Government is honouring that promise and will ensure that ‘our indigenous peoples across this country and the rest of Guyanese have land of their own”.

Also, in attendance were Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and his wife, Mrs. Sita Nagamootoo, Minister of Public Affairs, Dawn Hastings-Williams, and Ministers within the Ministries of Finance, Jaipaul Sharma and Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings and NTC Chairman Nichols Fredericks.

The audience was entertained with dances and songs from various Indigenous cultural groups and students from the Hinterland Students Dormitory.

Indigenous Heritage Month activities continue with the annual cultural extravaganza on September from 1-5 at the Heritage Village, Sophia Exhibition Centre, where dances, songs, food, craft, and an art exhibition will be displayed.

Also scheduled is the Heritage Games, a fund-raising event and Reflections on the Life of Stephen Campbell.

The Heritage Village celebration is scheduled for September 15 at Shulinab Village, South Rupununi.

By: Synieka Thorne.
Images: Jameel Mohamed.