By Collin Haynes
A few years ago, I produced a YouTube video entitled “A Youth’s vision for Guyana” as my view of the social,
economic and political modernization that is need for our youth. Over the last 22 years of authoritarian rule, these issues have worsened. Political stalemate and the lack of effective and efficient systems within our public sector have seen many of our youth growing in despair and disbelieve.
The next election will be a critical one in the history of our nation. A majority of the voting population will be under the age of 35. Many of my fellow young citizens are without jobs, without hope, struggling to survive, facing a bleak future. Many of us have seen despair in the eyes of our parents, especially over the last decade under the rule of the PPP/C. Many of us have seen discrimination firsthand, especially folks like myself who grew up in Linden. But, in the midst of all our struggles, there has been a rainbow of hope.
We have seen more than ever, a large portion of our population voting in favour of transparency and accountability, over tyranny, waste and mismanagement.
My fellow youths are in deep despair because of the lack of economic opportunities, disheartened because by the lack of gainful employment, they all seek improved educational standards and improved standards of living and quality of life.
Our Education System has failed us miserably. While outstanding performances are laudable, we need to look at the overall performance of our school children. How many of them on completing secondary school, attain the necessary passes to enter university or the labour force?
Currently, the administration of our institution of higher learning, the University of Guyana is appalling. And even if a student who has excelled intends to continue their education, the limited number of scholarships and grants does not afford students the opportunity to attend external colleges and universities.
Abortion among our young women in Guyana is at an all-time high. While the National Assembly debates on timings and trimesters, mothers don’t have universal access to counseling and contraception methods. Teens that become pregnant have to be face the stigma and marginalization of our society. This should not be. We should be providing counseling and other support services to our teenage mothers, treat them with respect and dignity, and assist them to continue their education.
The same applies to those affected by HIV/AIDS. There is a great need, according to the World Health Organization, for programmes geared towards reducing stigma among those affected by this pandemic. We need to engage in effective and efficient surveillance of areas that are affected across our nation and train a competent workforce; from doctors to nurses, public health practitioners, voluntary counseling & testing and PMTCT workers. Our nation’s health is our wealth and showcase to the rest of the world.
A few years ago, I watched the Olympics in London. It was a joy and delight to see my country on the international stage, but with little participation/qualification in events it tells me one thing, we need to invest more in sports, from nursery to secondary, and at the community level. Cricket, football, and track and field; we need to place these as a priority to improve the physical capability of our youths to compete on the world stage.
Now, I am not all about highlighting the problems in our country without sustainable solutions. So, here is a Youth’s vision for a social, political and economic modernization of Guyana:
I envision a Guyana where VAT would be reduced from 16% to 8-10% so that our people have a bit more money in their pockets. In Education, I strongly advocate for effective use of public spending to facilitate better entrance rates, lower dropout rates, remediation, test scores scholarships, and grants to improve the standard of the majority of our youths and develop our UG curriculum to matriculate the best and brightest youth for the workforce.
Narrow-minded politicians will continue to foster racial division among us, but we must insist to them that there is only a “Cooperative Republic of Guyana.”
Let us give the most precious gift of all, commitment; commitment to serve our country in the best interest of all Guyanese. Until such time as we put country first and self second, there will continue to be a vast divide in our society and development will always be lopsided.
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