The raging fires in the Amazon should be a wake-up call for the government. The fires are exposing the real dangers of deforestation and what can happen.
Not only are the fires destroying the forests in Brazil but they are also killing the biodiversity of the Amazon. Guyana should take note since it is clear that increased mining results in increased deforestation and exposes Guyana to the same risks as the fires in Brazil.
The need for greater environmental education has always been used as a cliché to respond to such crises. But what the world needs is not greater environmental education but greater environmental action.
Many years ago, the suggestion was floated that biodiversity and climate change should be introduced into the schools’ curriculum. It is surprising that the APNU+AFC which is so hyped about green development has never over the past four years, introduced biodiversity and climate change into the schools.
It is a good thing that it has not. The resources that would have been spent on introducing these subjects into schools would have been better utilized towards helping more of our students study biology and other natural science subjects.
The local schools are ill-equipped for the teaching of climate change and biodiversity as individual subjects. The laboratories within most schools are deficient. Most of them are not up to standard and therefore burdening them with new subjects which require laboratory specimens which are not available, makes no sense.
The global climate change debate has spiked students’ interest in environmental studies. A great many students are studying environmental studies at the University of Guyana. But what is going to happen when they graduate? Where are the jobs for these young people.
There are no jobs available. All the hype about green development is just hot air because there are no jobs being generated for those who have jumped on the green development bandwagon and have registered at university for environmental studies.
The government must also show where the climate change jobs are going to be generated so as to encourage persons to enter into these fields. There are not many such jobs in Guyana so why should students want to enter a field for which they will not secure employment.
Will these kids be given jobs in climate mitigation and adaptation professions when the Norway funds begin to pour in? Or will these jobs be reserved for the children and associates of the members of the ruling elite?
Eighty per cent of all university graduates end up overseas. Each year the teachers’ training college turns out hundreds of trained teachers. A great many of them are leaving for greener pastures. Hundreds of nurses have already left for England. We are told that there is a shortage of engineers within the public sector.
The jobs are not there and where they are available they are poor-paying. So how is the government going to retain its graduates when the pay is so poor?
An incentive has to be offered to students to study science. And a good start would be to allow for free tuition for students in the engineering and natural science faculties. Free education for all ends up being a substandard education. It is therefore better to give priority to the skills which are most needed to be retained. And right now those are the engineers and the scientists.
The government recently hinted that free university education will be reintroduced. But would it not have been better if instead of offering free education to social scientists, for it to be offered to those pursuing studies in natural science?
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