Jul 05, 2017 kaieteur news Letters

Dear Editor,
WPA joins the rest of Guyana in hailing the improved results at the recent National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) examinations. While we feel that much more must be done to return our education system to its once high standards, this significant movement must be cause for optimism. After years of agonizing, we appear to be turning the proverbial corner. The challenge now is to maintain this forward trajectory.
The improvement in the Mathematic results is particularly heartening. This is a subject area in which our results had reached an all-time low. The steep rise this year speaks volumes about investment in people as a matter of policy. There can be no doubt that the government’s pro-active response to the crisis in education in general and mathematics in particular has reaped early rewards. The President, the former Minister of Education and the government must be commended for their example and commitment in this regard.
But at the end of the day, it is the students, their parents and their teachers who must receive the ultimate commendations. Because our children are the future, it gives us hope when enough of them at such young ages could muster the discipline needed for and the commitment to their personal success. Of course, they could not do this without the input of their parents. In an era when we bemoan the decline of parental involvement in the education of their children, this must be a signal that more parents and guardians are hearing the plea for more parental responsibility.
tacumaThere can be no education without teachers. While there are many ills afflicting the teaching profession, respect must be given where it’s due—our teachers have delivered. WPA is conscious that teachers need much more institutional support and takes this opportunity to call on the government to make this an area of special emphasis. Clearly, improved wages and habitable working conditions are a priority. If the improvement we see this year is to be replicated at other levels and in the future, investment in teachers must be instant.
WPA notes that students at private schools continue to outperform their counterparts in the public schools. This is a problem that must be rectified if we are to put an end to what President Granger once dubbed as “apartheid in education.” But congratulations to the private schools are in order and the results should be a further reminder that the VAT on private education should be urgently reviewed.
emancipationWPA would be remiss if it did not draw attention to the linkage between these improved results and the removal of Dr. Rupert Roopnarine ostensibly for unsatisfactory performance. If performance is measured by tangible outcomes, Dr. Roopnarine clearly did not perform too badly. Dr. Roopnarine also reintroduced a music programme in schools, instituted school audits, started ground work for a proper PR unit at the Ministry, introduced universal prayer and prioritizing national songs in schools. Finally, the Minister was able to bring much needed order to the very corrupted school placement system by streamlining placement.
These improved results seem to suggest that the president may have acted pre-maturely in removing him from that ministry. Perhaps some public acknowledgement of an error in judgement would go a long way towards repairing what borders on a questioning of Dr. Roopnarine’s competence.
WPA is alarmed at the news that the government has been paying the rent for two government ministers to the tune of $500,000. The issue of lavish spending on government functionaries is one that dogged the previous government and which was correctly condemned by the then opposition parties. It is therefore a matter of grave concern when similar practices seem to be creeping into the behavior of the present government. While the WPA does not object to government ministers being compensated at levels befitting their office, we strongly object to the super-salaries and other compensation that seem to have become the norm in Guyana.
06f7c9_98ab5d3fe3ef46e28898cf40c0e299d6WPA cannot in all conscience defend and support government payment of half a million dollars rent for ministers. When one places this fact against the 50% rise in salary that was given to them in 2015, it borders on government splurging of taxpayers’ money. If ministers are being paid healthy salaries, enjoy the usual perks that come with the office and get their rent paid at 500,000 per month, then that amounts to enrichment at the expense of government. It was wrong under the PPP and it cannot be correct now. WPA has always felt that our government must distinguish itself from the PPP on these and other matters pertaining to management of government resources.
WPA wishes to draw to our government’s attention that at a time when we bemoan to huge gap between the rich and the poor, it is inexcusable for us to be paying a monthly rent for ministers that amounts to approximately 6 times that of the monthly salary of the average public servant. While we agree that the $25,000 housing allowance for ministers may be inadequate, we absolutely feel that $500, 000 is far beyond reasonable. We therefore call for an immediate review of the unhealthy policy of paying mega rent for ministers.
WPA notes that government has refused to heed its call for a release to the public of the details of the contract it signed with Exxon Mobil. Today we renew that call. We believe that government’s explanation that national security concerns has prevented it from making a public disclosure is not convincing.
WPA is of the firm belief that the issues affecting the youth of Guyana should be tackled in a comprehensive manner. It is our view that this demographic that is critical to the development of the country and holds the key to its re-election. While we acknowledge the work being done in the area of Sports, the successful Hackaton, the STEM programme and the meaningful changes that have occurred in the PYARG programme.
WPA feels that the National Youth Policy should form the basis upon which youths are engaged. We, therefore, urge the government to convene the National Youth Council after meaningful consultations with youth in all regions of Guyana. We further call on the government to ensure that this National Youth Council has representatives from every Region in the country and put systems in place to allow recommendations from this council to inform the annual budgetary allocation for youth.
We recommend that The National Youth Council should conduct a nation-wide study to determine which aspects of the Youth Policy should be prioritsed by the government. WPA also calls for the early convening of a National Youth Conference as promised in the Coalition’s manifesto.
David Hinds for WPA