The Ministry of Indigenous Affairs is expected to form an Action Plan to address matters affecting the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana based on a study conducted by the United Nation’s Children, (UNICEF).
The study released by UNICEF Permanent Representative to Guyana and Suriname Sylvie Fouet seeks to inform local and regional strategies, projects and programmes about methods which will shape the empowerment of indigenous women, children and adolescents.
The UNICEF representative handed over the booklet to Minister of Indigenous Affairs Sydney Allicock following a press conference at the boardroom of the Ministry’s Headquarters last week.
Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs Valerie Garrido- Lowe noted that study is a significant one since it is the first of its kind to be conducted in the Caribbean or Latin America. She noted that while indigenous populations may be culturally rich they happen to be amongst the most materially poor and socially excluded people in the Amazon region.
As such, Indigenous Peoples would experience poverty at twice the rate and sometimes even five times more than the non-indigenous population. They are also less likely to access to good quality education, health and other social services.
She said further that the Indigenous peoples continue to be crippled by the lack of access to infrastructure and modern life facilities to the same extent of their counterparts residing on Guyana’s coastlands.
Minister Lowe said however, that Government is serious about closing that gap.
“The hinterland must have the same opportunities as the coastland as it relates to education, health services, infrastructure and other social services that will help particularly the development of women and children,” she added.
Meanwhile, UNICEF Permanent Representative to Guyana and Suriname Sylvie Fouet explained that the education for indigenous girls and boys are among the two issues considered to be the most crucial.
Alluding to the study, Fouet noted that more than half of the Indigenous population drops out of school by the time they reach the level of the primary school.
She explained that only 53% of those who had been enrolled into secondary school actually complete the final years of secondary education, as many drops out due to the inaccessibility to schools, financial constraints faced by families, as well as the perception that education is not necessary, among other reasons.
According to the study, the deficiencies in the quality of education delivery in the hinterland are said to be influenced by the lack of qualified teachers and resources such as books and learning materials; poor infrastructure at schools, including buildings which are old and lack computers and internet access; and language barriers.
“Guaranteeing the good quality of education at both the primary and secondary level for indigenous children remains one of the main challenges related to education in Guyana.
Birth registration is the foundation of safeguarding many of the child’s civil, economic, social and cultural rights. Among different socio-economic characteristics, the indigenous children are those who have the highest chance of not being registered at birth,
Other issues of concern for the Indigenous peoples are the availability of medication; low quality of health care, poor water, sanitation and hygiene practices; difficulty in access to health care; influences of cultural factors; and behavioural health, among others.
Pic saved as unicef study
Caption: 2nd from left UNICEF Permanent Representative to Guyana and Suriname Sylvie Fouet hands over study to Minister Sydney Allicock in the presence of other Ministry officials.
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