‘There is an academic and vocational revolution in the hinterland’

– Min. Garrido-Lowe

DPI, Guyana, Monday, October 7, 2019

The government has been fostering an academic and vocational revolution in the hinterland. Minister within the Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Hon. Valerie Garrido-Lowe boasted of government’s work today at the National Toshaos Council (NTC) conference.

During her address to over 212 Indigenous village leaders at the 13th conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, the minister noted that as Guyana develops, the nation’s youths must be qualified and skilled in various academic and technical areas since the demand for such will increase dramatically.

To this end, the Hinterland Scholarship (HSP) continues to help to mould young minds and provide them with the opportunity to further their studies at more resourced institutions on the coastland or in their respective regions. This year, students under the HSP were recognised nationally for their outstanding performance.

Also, this year, His Excellency, President David Granger officially opened the $186M Hinterland Student Dormitory for tertiary students pursuing studies at the University of Guyana (UG), the Government Technical Institute (GTI) and the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA), among other institutions.

Minister Garrido-Lowe also disclosed that the government will be establishing technical institutions in all of the hinterland regions. Construction of one such facility is already underway in Annai, Region 9, while feasibility studies are being conducted in the other regions.

“Our government’s drive to close the opportunity gap between the hinterland and the coastland, a vision by no other than President David Granger himself, whereby youths can attend tertiary institutions on the coastland has seen the construction of the Tertiary Hinterland Dormitory… the spanking new modern architecture is a real blessing to 120 of our promising tertiary minds from across the vast hinterland,” the minister said.

She pointed out that the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS) continues to gain momentum across the hinterland regions. Some $2Billion was invested to train 4,000 youths in the area of entrepreneurship, business management, garment construction, catering and remedial Mathematics and English Language. This has led to the creation of approximately 2,000 businesses across the country. Some of the young people chose to enrol in the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to pursue careers in the health and education sectors, while others are serving on village councils.

“There is more to be said about this caring, the president’s very own vision, the HEYS is taking off like a rocket… the $2Billion invested in 4,000 youths in over 200 communities has not gone to waste as some had predicted. Of course, some fell but that is expected with a project of this magnitude. We are happy that many survived and applaud the youth for their courage and commitment.”

The minister further noted that the government stands ready to support the NTC in its endeavours. This year, $74M was allocated for the NTC conference. Over the last three years, the government has increased the subvention given to NTC by 67%. Previously, the body received $12M in 2015; this was increased to $16M in 2017 and 2018 respectively, and $20M in 2019.

Chairman of the National Toshaos Council, Nicholas Fredricks highlighted the impact of the ICT Hubs that have been established in communities across the hinterland communities. Village leaders, he said, can now communicate with each other, the NTC Secretariat and the Indigenous Affairs Ministry in Georgetown.

He urged the leaders to use the opportunity to “properly represent” Guyana’s first peoples. “It is a time where we have to focus and don’t be distracted. We are here for this week let us make sure that we have full interaction and making use of what we are here for.”