Free …education’s downside

Tuesday was rather serendipitously “International Day of Education”, when Min of Education, Priya Manickchand, rose to make her contribution to the Budget 2023 Debate! And because of this, you’d think the Opposition would’ve given her a round of applause when she announced that, by 2025, UG tuition would be eliminated!! Guyana would once again have FREE education from nursery to university!! And that’s another reason that the Opposition should’ve been dancing in the aisles, since it was Desmond Hoyte who’d introduced tuition – after the PNC’s founder-leader Burnham had continued Jagan’s policy of free tertiary education!!
In all fairness to Dessie, it was part of the bitter medicine he’d been forced to swallow from the IMF in 1989. He had to grovel because the “goadie-inducing” debt he’d inherited from Burnham effectively forced Guyana into international receivership!! The IMF “conditionalities” insisted on privatising the Burnham-nationalised economy – and imposing tuition to attend UG. The PNC has always exalted Burnham for his “visionary” stance on free education – even though this was seen as a basic right by all socialists – including Jagan.
When the latter was returned to office in 1992, he couldn’t very well return free tuition, since we were still being “mannered” by the IMF!! Bharrat Jagdeo, as President, had to perform a Herculean task of getting the PNC’s US$2.1B debt written off. So, when the PNC replaced the PPP in 2015, they could’ve easily removed the tuition from UG, but not only they didn’t – they actually RAISED it!! So, they should’ve ran around the floor of the National Assembly with Priya on their shoulders, no?!!
But now that we’re gonna have free Uni education, your Eyewitness sees some challenges ahead. Right off the bat, the Government gotta find a method to ensure that tertiary educational needs at our stage of development are satisfied. At the moment, half of UG grads come out with degrees in “International Relations” and “Sociology”, and subjects in the Humanities. And they whine about not getting employment as “Uni graduates”!! Tell your Eyewitness, for goodness’ sake, of what use is an IR graduate to a businessman trying to ensure his business pulls in a profit to pay the said graduate!?!
Guyana needs technical personnel for all the jobs opening up in the oil and gas sector and the coming downstream industries. Plus specialists for the diversification of the agriculture sector, that’ll keep us viable after the O&G runs out. Meaning that UG needs a radical makeover in its structure and curricula. It gotta be more like a polytechnic and an agricultural university.
Would you believe that there’s a Tokyo University of Agriculture? Maybe that’s why their Waygu beef sells at US$300 per pound!!
Free must be focused!!

…local Government?
As the Budget Debate drones on, your Eyewitness’s eye was caught by the exchange between the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development (MoLG&RD) and his “shadow” in the Opposition. Save that the “shadow” was ANYTHING but a shadow!! Anyhow, what was revealed did raise some eyebrows – the MoLG&RD is asking for $19B this year. So, what exactly does the Ministry do? Well…the two functions indicated in its name: Local Govt and Regional Development!!
In looking this up on the Ministry’s website, your Eyewitness found an interesting declaration on “Regional Development”: A new model of regional development surrounds the eradication of a colonial compound mentality…It hinges on the realization that the regional system is not an appendage of central government, but rather a driver of local economic empowerment.”
“The eradication of a colonial compound mentality”?? Didn’t that mentality have the workers treated like peons?? So how about using some of that $19B to raise salaries and attract more qualified staff to ensure they’re “not an appendage of central government”??

…friends calling
So, who says money doesn’t make the world go around?? Why else would all these countries who didn’t give us the time of day now line up to open up embassies??
The latest being Guatemala, Colombia & Dominican Republic!!