“Our Gov’t is committed to offering opportunities to all its citizens” – Minister Croal
Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal, MP, says the Government is committed to providing equal opportunities for all Guyanese.
The Minister gave this reassurance on Wednesday as he addressed 150 Community Service Officers (CSOs) who successfully completed training in the operation of photovoltaic systems and tractor driving and maintenance.
The programme was facilitated by the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour’s Board of Industrial Training (BIT).
The graduation ceremony was held at the Hinterland Scholarship Dormitory, Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara.
Minister Croal said the government is also committed to bridging the gap between the hinterland and the coastland, “And so, training programmes like these will certainly help in reducing that gap.”
He added that the beneficiaries of these training programmes are now in possession of valuable skills that will be beneficial, not just to them, but their communities as well.
“I’m particularly pleased that the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) has a number of programmes and as I said, relevant programmes that are geared towards creating opportunities for employment, but more importantly that wherever you traverse in the Hinterland regions that it will provide an equal opportunity for all.
“As Community Support officers, this must be a noteworthy achievement which will go certainly a long way, which will help you to go a long way to help you to improve your quality of life. But it doesn’t stop there it also helps to improve your communities … I want to encourage you to use the knowledge and the skills that have been imparted to the best of your ability. Your journey has only started.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, MP, noted that the CSO programme was conceptualised following the recognition of the lack of employment opportunities in hinterland communities.
CSOs work along with their respective village councils and earn a stipend for their services.
Minister Hamilton said the programme serves as a starting point for many individuals to get into various fields, such as teaching and healthcare, among others.
“As I speak to you, I know of CSOs who started off as a CSOs and today, they are nurses. I know of CSOs who started off as a teacher-aide and today they are teachers. The intention is not for you to be a CSO forever,” Minister Hamilton said.
He noted that before taking office in August 2020, from his assessment the BIT programme catered only to the needs of persons from the coast.
“And so, one of the first things we set out to do among several things, is how do we ensure that the same opportunities that we have in Georgetown and Region Four and on the coast… that every village regardless in which region they are situated, they can have the same opportunities.
“First thing we did is to ensure, and Minister Croal was helpful and other Ministers, ensuring that in every region we appoint one or two Board of Industrial Training officers because we could talk how much we want about the program in Georgetown, no way the person at Karasabai can participate in this program because the community would not be able to send someone to Georgetown to sit down with BIT, to map a program out. So that was defeating the purpose.”
Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Ryan Toolsie said the ministry will continue to make investments in Amerindian youth to build capacity, so that they can contribute to the development of their communities.
Notably, Minister Croal said in October, government in collaboration with the Guyana Water Incorporated will be embarking on training one CSO in every community in the area of line maintenance and service.