A New Guyana
Guyana, like all modern societies, is a rules-based society, that is to say, it is governed by the rule of law. This incidentally is the defining characteristic of all modern societies without which societies could degenerate into what the English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, described as ‘a state of nature where there is war of all against all’.
Fortunately, societies by and large have evolved over the decades from authoritarian and dictatorial rule to stable democracies even though there are still some societies where there is an almost complete breakdown of laws and constitutional governance.
Take Somalia, for example, which is now considered a failed state. For over two decades that country has been without a central government since the government was overthrown by tribal militias which later fought against each other. For several years in a row, Somalia has been ranked as one of the world’s poorest and most violent countries plagued by warring militias, bandits, warlords and pirates.
Unlike what is being projected by some so-called ‘analysts’, Guyana is not a ‘failed’ state but a country well on the road to economic prosperity. The country has over the past years graduated from a Low Income country to a Middle Income Country, thanks to a significant growth in GDP and a corresponding increase in per capita spending.
It is true that by regional standards we still have some catching up to do. This resulted primarily from the fact that our economy was stultified and retarded for nearly three decades due to bad governance and undemocratic rule which saw us slipping economically further and further away from countries in the region. When the current administration assumed power in 1992, Guyana was one of the highest indebted country in the western hemisphere with debt servicing and repayments consuming the hog of our revenues. The current administration has not only reduced the debt burden to manageable proportions but also restored and modernized a run-down economy, all within the space of less than two decades.
The stagnation of the economy by the previous PNC administration set into motion other kinds of under performances the most unfortunate of which in my view was the decline in academic standards. We became by the end of the 1980’s, the worst performing country at the CXC/GCE examinations. Our students who in the past were high achievers in local and regional examinations performed at the bottom of the achievement ladder due to no fault on their own but due to a flawed and malfunctioning education system. A vast majority of students who sat the CXC/GCE examinations failed to pass at acceptable pass grades.
Today, our examination results are not only getting better overall but there has also been a much better spread of the results. An analysis of the results would reveal that schools outside of Georgetown are putting out top students. This year, the top CXC student came from Abrams Zuil Secondary on the Essequibo Coast. This is indeed a remarkable performance for which the student, teachers and the school must be congratulated.
Abrams Zuil Secondary until recently was a junior relatively unknown secondary school but with hard work and dedication the school has been transformed from a low performing school to one of the leading secondary school in the country.
Education, like so many other sectors and sub-sectors, can be considered as a success story for the current administration which reversed the spiral of economic and social decline within a relatively short period of time. One only has to look at the proliferation of new housing schemes, the network of new and newly surfaced roads, the large number of new buildings under construction both private and public to get a sense of how far we have progressed as a nation. It is no exaggeration to say that we are experiencing a construction boom which has resulted in a transformation of the physical and social infrastructure of the entire country. What we are seeking in effect is a new Guyana in the making, one in which there is an expansion of political, economic and social space. The body-politic has been transformed to one in which there is higher levels of tolerance among ethnic and cultural groups and appreciation for our cultural diversity.
This is why we have to guard against those elements who are seeking to sow the seeds of division in our society out of narrow partisan ends. These are people who clearly do not have the national interest at heart and must be rejected by all those who cherish a peaceful and progressive Guyana. Guyana belongs to all of its citizens in equal measure and there is no “favoured” ethnic or cultural group as is sometimes argued by some people with political axes to grind.
The people of Guyana, regardless of race or political affiliation want to see progress and development. They want to live in a society in which there is peace and unity. Those who feel or think otherwise have clearly misread the mood and thinking of the overwhelming majority of Guyanese people.