Kaieteur News – National Service was a monumental failure that achieved nothing, absolutely nothing. National Service failed without any resistance. The PPP never destroyed National Service. It had no need to do so.National Service had little to do with national development. It was part of an experiment intended to militarize the population so as to reorient national values in the pursuit of an ill-suited model of socialism.
It was intended to reconfigure the thinking of Guyanese through political indoctrination.The public was however fed the usual diet of nationalist sentiments. They were sold the idea that National Service was a part of the national development process. This was all part of the brainwashing.In order to justify this massive failed experiment which sucked the energies out of the society and burdened the Government with a bill that it could not afford, National Service was advertised as helping to address the situation of unemployed youths, by providing them with an outlet to learn skills, contribute to national development and create the new Guyana.That new Guyana was never created. That new Guyana was an experiment that went wrong.
Whatever skills National Service provided to the unskilled could have been had much cheaper and more efficiently through alternative skills-development schemes. No one needs National Service to provide skills.The PPP has been blamed for the demise of National Service. There are still many who are not willing to accept that Burnham and company did not know what they were doing when they introduced this scheme, had no clue about how to reorient the society towards socialist values and in the end were prepared to use National Service as a means of social control.National Service was on its death bed when the PPP came to power. National Service died of financial starvation because during the Hoyte administration, there was simply no money to keep the camps going.
Rather than contributing to national revenue, National Service became a liability. It was downscaled and downsized so that by the time the PNC exited power, National Service was a skeleton of its former self.
The PPP merely administered the final rites. National Service went into decline under Desmond Hoyte but he must not be blamed because it was National Service itself which brought about its own demise. It had become an unproductive and unaffordable burden to the State.We live in different times. National Service is no longer about donning a uniform, joining a platoon of green uniformed groups and heading to an interior location to live in barracks, plant cotton peas, eat subsistence meals and learn how to march and use a weapon.
If that is the price that one has to pay to impart skills to the unskilled, then Guyana is never going to develop. There are better ways to achieving the same objective.
What exactly are these skills that National Service turned out? And why could other ways not be found to teach the unemployed these same skills without placing them in a paramilitary organization?
Since when does skill-training require persons to have to be forced into a form of servitude?
There is a need for a new type of National Service but not in the form which we had. The best National Service is for people to become productive citizens.
A skilled citizen, productive and earning, will develop the economy of Guyana. When someone contributes to productive activities, when those activities contribute rather than act as a drain on national resources. That is a better form of National Service because the productive citizen is contributing to the expansion of the economy.
Guyanese must serve themselves first by becoming skilled and proficient. They must make something of their lives and in so doing contribute to nation-building.
The old model of National Service that we practiced will not return. Those days are gone forever.
The youths of Guyana are not going to be led astray like previous generations who were led to into believing that national development means that you have to join a paramilitary unit.
The youths of today have different priorities. They are not interested into reintroduction of National Service. University students are now paying for their education- not paying much, but still paying. No one is going to convince them that because they received a subsidized education, they have to give back something to the state.
Even with all the funds now at the disposal of Government, no political party in Guyana is going to reintroduce National Service, whether compulsory or voluntary because it will fail again. National Service is history.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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