The U.S. Embassy’s Chargé d’Affairs, Karen Williams, before she completed her tenure held a press conference and though the news was bad, it was good in the sense that the statistics on migration that she offered show the ignorance and abominable mediocrity that pervades the corridors of power in this country. According to Ms. Williams, 14 Guyanese per day leave here to become legal residents of the US. Now that number does not include legal migration to other lands and the backtrack route.
We can add 28 more flyers because Canada has a self-sponsorship programme that is emptying the pool of educated Guyanese. Then there is the natural flow, both legally and illegally to CARICOM states and the US. It may be a correct figure of 42 persons that take winged impulse daily from these shores. The World Bank put it at 82 percent of the people with tertiary education that moves out to other lands. One recalls a press conference by President Jagdeo in dealing with Carifesta and he said that the Ministry of Works couldn’t secure engineers. Mr. Sattaur Gafoor in an interview with the Stabroek News four years ago mentioned the frightening shortage of skills.
So what does the Government of Guyana do with this populational hemorrhage? Before we answer that, all Guyanese should know that two days ago the British Government announced the ending of the retirement age of 65. Now here is where 14 plus 28 equals ignorance. The retirement age in the UK is sixty-five and now there is no longer any automatic retirement date. That news was the first item on the BBC online edition. Tell me if this is not ignorance of the most diseased kind when you hear that in Guyana the retirement age in the public service is 55 and in the wider public sector, 60. I heard the new Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Dr. Compton Bourne say that the American academic system has done away with mandatory retirement. At UG, which has not been able to attract highly qualified staff, the retirement age is 60.
So Guyana, one of the poorest countries in the Third World, is leading the global community of nations in terms of possession of skilled citizens. We have so many educated people that we can lend the entire world all of our talented humans. It has to be. If not, how do you explain valued teachers with specialist skills, well-trained army and police personnel retiring from the public sector at the mandatory age of 55? The answer is we do not have such an abundance of skills to sell to the world. We desperately need such people. But ignorance is what you find in the corridors of power.
Of course this is only half of the destructive cancer that lines the corridors of power. The Government of Guyana begs the international community all the time. Prime Minister Golding of Jamaica said in September last year that as a CARICOM Head he is ashamed at a particular CARICOM nation that has become an international pan-handler, going to the world and begging all the time.
This writer did a column the next day and identified Guyana as the unnamed state the Jamaican PM had in mind. For saying that I was called a fool by you know who. But it was Guyana Golding meant.
So we beg and beg all the time from countries that are innovating and trying to make themselves better. We don’t want to seek vision and innovation. So we throw our teachers, civil servants and security personnel to the wolves when they reach 55, but we implore other nations to help us financially.
Their economies are better than ours because they see the wisdom to keep people working longer because they are living longer. I have been at UG for 25 years, and longer than that UG has been unable to attract at least one person that is a professor.
Let me repeat, there has been no application from any professor outside of Guyana to accept a normal three-year contract. This has been going on for over thirty years. Yet we retire our lecturers at UG at 60. UG is desperately seeking cooperation from UWI whose retirement age is 70. For three years now, the Ministry of Education at the Ministerial level has promised the upping of the retirement age for teachers to 60.
The begging continues, of course, and one Caricom Head has made it vividly pellucid that her country is not going to bankroll poorer CARICOM countries. I am sure she is talking about Guyana where 14 plus 28 gives you ignorance of the worst kind.
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