Significant, was the word, used by President David Granger, to describe the inaugural graduating class of the Bertram Collins College of the Public Service.
A total of 58 cadets were among the graduating batch, and it is expected that they will utilise the skills and knowledge acquired to help improve the way public servants operate.
Speaking at the forum yesterday at the Ogle, East Coast Demerara-based College, President Granger posited that Guyana’s development demands the existence of a public service, and thus the public service must be an educated one. He moreover stressed the importance of having in place an organisation that can provide public servants with the wherewithal to provide the services that citizens need.
“Simply walking off the streets and passing a job interview can’t be enough; you can’t be walking the streets one day and a public servant the next, there has to be a graduation process…you cannot deliver the quality public services this country needs by simply walking off the streets one day,” Granger asserted.
A move to adequately prepare persons to function effectively in the realm of the public service, the President explained, is not designed to make life difficult for public servants, but rather, it is aimed at making life better for the public. In so doing, he emphasised that it is imperative that public servants not only work hard, but they must also be educated enough to advise Ministers. “They must provide the ministers with organised thoughts and research; they must bring their experiences to bear…,” he considered.
Training at the Public Service College therefore, is meant to position public servants to inculcate the needed qualities of the public service and in so doing, they must be able to comprehend the complexities of the constitution of the country and the system of public administration at all three tiers. The President was at the time making reference to central, regional and municipal administrations.
According to Granger, so diverse must be the knowledge of the public servant that he or she should be familiar with the financial and administrative regulations and rules that are common at all three levels of administration.
“Public servants must also comprehend the national diversity of the national landscape throughout the 10 administrative regions,” said Granger, as he amplified the vastness and peculiarities of the various regions.
But even as they grasp the landscape, the President noted that Public Servants will also be tasked with recognising and appreciating the changes being made to the system of regional administration.
“We have created three new towns and it is our intention that in coming years every region must have a capital town, so that no person will have to leave his or her region to come to Georgetown or to go to any other region to do him or her business…whether it is NIS or passport. Every region should have its own commercial bank, its own Chambers of Commerce, its own hospital, its own law courts, its own radio and television stations and this has started to happen…police and fire stations, citizens and immigration services; all of these are being decentralised,” President Granger underscored.
But according to the Head of State, providing public services will be impossible unless public servants themselves understand the country in which they live and appreciate the needs of the citizens who they serve.
“The public servant is required to act without ‘fear or favour, affection or ill will’ towards the public in the performance of his or her duties; that is what it means to be a professional”.
Also speaking at yesterday’s forum, Permanent Secretary of the Public Service Ministry, Mr. Reginald Brotherson asserted that “You cannot sit in an aircraft and say you are a pilot; you cannot be dressed in a police uniform and say you are a policeman; you cannot sit in an office and say that you are a public servant…you have to be trained for these things.”
The newly skilled individuals are now better equipped with the appropriate knowledge and skills to handle the everyday challenges in public administration and to perform their duties diligently in the best interest of the society at large.
The graduates would have endured training for one year, with six months of theoretical classroom work, one month of study tour and four months of work study at several Ministries and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils.
It was noted during the graduation ceremony that accreditation coming from the University of Guyana, for this College, is being pursued and an official Act for the College has been approved by the Ministry of Legal Affairs. This is expected to be addressed during the New Year in Parliament, to better promote independence for the institution.
Ato Vaughn, the best graduating student of the College, while delivering his valedictorian speech said his experience over the past year has not been without challenges, but has indeed helped him to learn a lot.
He said the most challenging aspect of training for him was being attached to the Regional Democratic Council, and noted “the Public Service is the great jungle”.
It is because of facing these challenges, he said, he now understands the struggles of the public and better appreciates them.
Vaughn expressed his gratitude to the Head of State for establishing his vision for the College and also mentioned that he is privileged to be the valedictorian of the first batch of graduates coming from the College.
The witty graduate encouraged not only his colleagues during his remarks, but also sought to address the next batch of graduates. He said, “I urge you to be better. Think outside of the box. Think as if there is no box…”
The President after delivering his speech presented prizes to Vaughn, which included a laptop computer, a certificate, a printer, a plaque and a $20,000 book voucher.
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