Dictionaries define “youth” to be the period of life “between childhood and maturity.” (Not unlike the meaning of “adolescence.”) Again various countries decide on who is a child, a “youth” or an adult legally. Guyana uses ages such as 14,15,16,18 for specific status. (Twenty-one (21) used to be adulthood in by-gone times. My observations today deem my “youth” to be between 14 and 30. Even as I consider the chronological as against mental, even intellectual age.
All the above is context for a few observations on the care, attention, status and dangers relevant to young Guyanese at this period of our history.
Why today? Because I’m being assailed, through local media, with both the inhuman, degenerate abuse of children and the programmes and graduation of a few successful young people after periods of instruction.
Of course, it should always be a fundamental reminder that under-forties represent an overwhelming bulk of our current population.
Youth-plight and risk
I was once a Primary teacher. I was associated with the establishment and development- in terms of literature and teaching- of the Guyana National Service (GNS). I worked in the then Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture. I’ve read books, studies and reports concerning youth policy and development. Of course, all the Party Election Manifestoes were rife with promises and programmes regarding Guyana’s youth development. But where are our youths today?
As is my wont I’ll not bother with the academic, the deeper analyses (though that latter is scientifically useful), the more political pronouncements. I record here what is obvious, visible and manifested. Too often the glows of success of the few mask the huge negatives of the majority.
Today the majority of Guyanese between ten and twenty are under-educated in the truest sense and meaning of (a well-rounded) education. Absentee “fathers” and “single-parent” mothers offer no real male role-models or wholesome heroes for our vulnerable youth. Scarce employment and depressed, joyless communities result in the “Ghetto /Gully/ Gaza” sub-cultures ripe to produce too many ignorant aggressive youth prone to anti-social behaviours. The over-abundance of one type of music and movies overwhelm some youth’s ability to reason, to negotiate, to compromise, even to know and share love.
“Education”, limited for the majority, apparently does not engender a wide vocabulary, so all they know and communicate frustrations with – is “gully slang” and repetitive obscenities. Now, the prevalence of parental abuse of children is finally being uncovered. From incest to trafficking we see now the sordid side of the despicable abuse of youths by monsters as our child protection agencies, investigators, counsellors and our laws, try to cope, pre-empt and correct. What more could be done?
“Every generation, every Society gets the youth it deserves” is an old truism still valid.
We reap what we produce. If for decades the youth witnesses electoral thievery, discrimination, favouritism, corrupt selfish practices at high levels, bribery, lawlessness, strange court acquittals and cocaine’s “successes”- for example- what then influences their thought processes? Especially where home, parenting, teaching and religion are weak?
Well, the 13-month Granger administration still promises overhauls, transformational policies, codes of conduct and new training institutions to foster fair, just equitable opportunities and governance. Yes, the youth need to see all that- in action! This society longs for exemplary leaders, wholesome, educated, cultured role- models to rival or replace gully rat and rich cocaine barons and their children, as examples to emulate.
The Education Ministry, its Department of Culture, Youth and Sport, the nation’s teachers, parents and real pastors of spiritual guidance all have their work cut out in the battle against the evils our youth face in their communities and mini-buses.
Over the past week I was heartened to read and hear of several courses completed by groups of young adults. The Board of Industrial Training, the culture/youth department’s Youth Entrepreneurial Skills Training programme (YEST), a (Region 4) women’s refuge skills self-esteem programme, First Lady Granger and her regional empowerment forays all speak to rejuvenated youth development initiatives. I pray they all be sustained.
Young, old politician and professional now advising President Granger, Comrade- Mr Aubrey Norton, has promised us a comprehensive, national Youth Policy. It is to advise all on government’s vision for youth development. Even not with bated breath, we await the document’s release.
Ali was born in Alness, Corentyne, grew up (to age twenty years old) in Annandale before his family migrated to the good old safety-net, USA.
After gaining American Citizenship he returned to the land of his birth after an absence of twenty-two years. So at age 42 years Ali was both Guyanese national (and citizen) and American citizen.
He was arrested in Georgetown on suspicion of having an unlicenced firearm in his pouch, along with two marijuana cigarettes. All the newspapers and tele newscasts described him (only) as an American citizen. There are a few implications: his “American” status takes precedence over his birth place- Alness, Guyana; the US Embassy is interested in his court appearance because he contributed his skills and taxes to the US; American and Guyanese authorities still have to adhere to local laws relevant to offences committed here; documented, paper Americans must respect their birthplace as nationals.
[Footnote: Observe those American and European citizen-terrorists betraying their citizenship(s)]
Acquire the old abandoned co-op bank building in Stabroek and create a modern Vendors Arcade.
To build a new restaurant: Involve the city council, the EPA, the Ministry of Health , the CH&PA, the GRA, the Ministry of Public Security. Who else?
Two “lovely” pieces this past week: Mosa Telford’s defence of her spirituality and Nowrang Persaud’s spirited defence of our Guyana Rum!
Coming soon: Embracing Dave’s diversity and some things some ministers say…
`Til next week