(Remarks delivered by HE David Granger, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, to the 29th Graduation Ceremony of President’s College, November 7, 2019)
What a time to be a Guyanese! Guyana belongs to you. This is all yours – the biggest, most beautiful and bountiful country in the Caribbean.
Guyana belongs to you. The country which you will inherit as adults in a few years time will be different from the one in which we are living today, your graduation day.
Guyana is on the threshold of major changes which will ensure that every citizen benefits from enhanced economic and educational opportunities and higher standards of living.
Guyana is about to become a ‘petroleum’ state, a ‘green’ state and a ‘digital’ state. It will be a better place for everyone:
∙ The petroleum state will introduce the oil and gas industry and boost national development. The economy will expand; revenues will increase; more resources will be available for public education, public infrastructure, public health, public telecommunications, public security, social protection – and utilities such as electricity and water.
∙ The ‘green’ state will place emphasis on the protection of its environment, the preservation of its biodiversity, the adoption of the use of renewable energy and practical measures to ensure climate adaptation. It will preserve and protect our rich natural resources for you and for future generations. More than eighty per cent of its territory is covered by forests which are the habitat of some of the world’s rarest flora and fauna.
∙ The ‘digital’ state will link every household, neighbourhood, community, region and government agency in the entire country. Every college and school will be connected. Guyana will be integrated, more fully, with the Caribbean and the rest of the world.
Information communications technology is being emphasised to add value to our service sectors, spawn knowledge-based industries and improve the type of manufacturing which will not have an adverse impact on the environment.
This is the country which you are expected to preserve and protect for the present and future generations. The emerging ‘petroleum’, ‘green’ development and ‘digital’ sectors will enable you to earn decent emoluments and enjoy a dignified existence in the land of your birth.
Guyana will need highly-skilled persons to populate these new and emerging economic sectors. It will need an ‘A-to-Z’ corps of scientists – from agronomists to zoologists – to sustain transformational national development.
It is for this reason that we are emphasizing science and technology education which will allow us to acquire the skills needed to propel development and to make the country more competitive internationally.
Guyana will launch a ‘Decade of development: 2020-2029’, next year. Education will be accorded the highest priority during the ‘Decade’. Free university education will be restored. Free university education is a right to which all Guyanese are entitled. The Constitution [Article 27] states: “Every citizen has the right to free education from nursery to university ….” No eligible Guyanese student will have to pay for education ever again at our public university. The ‘Decade’ will:
∙ embark on policies, programmes and projects in accordance with Guyana’s Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) – the country’s road map towards becoming a ‘green’ state;
∙ emphasize science and technology education in every secondary school without de-emphasizing the humanities and social sciences; greater priority will be placed on producing a corps of science scholars who will become the future captains of industry;
∙ enhance the science education to infrastructure – classrooms, laboratories and teaching – providing greater resources to our school administrators; improving opportunities for science and technology training for students and teachers and strengthening ICT education; and,
∙ emphasise the importance of ensuring that every child attends school and, particularly, having children ages 14-16 complete their secondary education.
The Green State Development Strategy explains that “an educated population is more inclusive, mobile and can enjoy higher living standards and well-being.” The overall objective of the ‘Decade’, in so far as education is concerned, is to ensure an inclusive and quality education for all so as to reduce inequalities and allow graduates to acquire the knowledge, skills and values needed for a modern economy.
I attended President’s College’s 26th graduation ceremony on 3rd November 2016. I presented the school with a cheque for G$1 M to improve its science laboratories. It was a small step intended to support the College’s science programme. I applaud the College for maintaining standards of excellence in both science and non-science subjects.
President’s College opened its doors for classes in September 1985. The College’s special character, as a ‘school of excellence,’ is spelt out in the President’s College Act of 1990 which states:
The aims of the College are to provide a place of education, learning and research of a standard required and expected of a secondary school of the highest standard and to promote the advancement of knowledge and the diffusion and extension of art, science and technology.
President’s College, true to its charter and character, has earned a proud reputation and graduated educated in science and technology.
My Government’s vision is to ensure there is a school of excellence in every capital town in every Region. Students should not have to leave the Regions in which they live to enjoy a first-class, secondary education.
President’s College will never again be neglected. It will be provided with the resources to fulfill its mission as a school of excellence.
President’s College is your alma mater – literally, ‘your nurturing mother’ – and you must be perpetually proud of that privilege. Each of you has become, in the twinkling of an eye, an alumnus – literally, ‘one who has been nurtured’.
College graduation is an event of mixed emotions. The joy of this ritual is moderated, by the sorrow of parting from your alma mater – the College in which most of you spent most of your adolescence. You leave here, however, aware that exciting opportunities lie ahead. I urge you to cherish this ceremony and the memories of your colleagues and your College.
Guyana belongs to you. The future starts today for you, the 29th graduating class of President’s College. You are graduating at a time when we are on the threshold of momentous changes. Your generation has a unique opportunity to fulfil its dreams and to realise its fullest potential. I encourage you to make the most of the many opportunities which these changes will open.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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