The Ministry of Social Cohesion expects that its Strategic Plan for 2017 to 2021 will be completed by the end of the year. The plan is intended to address the prevailing issues in Guyanese society which are hindering social cohesion between the different socio-economic groups.
During a symposium yesterday, organised by the Burnham Foundation at the Critchlow Labour College, Thomas Lands, Coordinator of the Ministry Sharon Patterson informed the gathering that the final plan will be available by the end of this year.
Patterson was invited by the organisation, headed by Vincent Alexander, to inform its members and the public about the work of the Ministry in addressing social cohesion. The theme of the symposium was “Burnham and Social Cohesion”.
Patterson said that the current status of the plan is that the Ministry has completed 13 of the 28 scheduled consultation exercises across Guyana.
She said that the plan will be based on input from the roundtable discussion organised by the Ministry as well as sensitization programs. According to Patterson, the consultation in Georgetown will have to be possibly redone since the attendance was low.
Patterson said that in addition to the strategic plan, the Ministry is involved in implementation of strategic action including capacity building, diversity education, advocacy, public awareness and development of partnerships.
Persons present at yesterday’s symposium raised several issues. Local activist Ras Leon Saul raised the issue that Rastafarians are not adequately involved in the activities organised by government.
Additionally, he said that the persons who are hired by government to conduct the various outreach programmes are not acquainted sufficiently with the plight of the average Guyanese, especially those in the depressed communities.
He said that this is an issue which needs to be addressed in order to reach out particularly to youths.
Moreover, the issue of justice was highlighted, where it was said that the lack of access to justice impedes social cohesion, as tarnishes the relationship between citizens and the authorities, especially in areas where cooperation is needed.
Another individual said that the government needs to ensure that persons from every ethnic group are given equal opportunity to share in the economic space. She said that persons need to be given equal chances to benefit from government contracts.
Patterson promised those in attendance that their concerns will be recorded and addressed at soonest.
The strategic plan was inspired by the recognition of Guyana as being a relatively poor and ethnically diverse country.
It is the intention that by 2021 Guyana should see a clear improvement in relations and interactions among the various ethnic and race groups in the country. Also it is expected that there will be a mutually positive appreciation of the cultural diversity of different groups at the national and community levels.
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