Sophia, once a notorious name and place, has changed, and is still doing so. In fact, just a short while ago, the Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister, Kwame McCoy, urged Sophia residents “…to capitalise on educational and training opportunities.” This, as we all know, in terms of standardising all communities across Guyana, is really the big goal of the Government, and so forms part of advancing the people-centred agenda so evident across Guyana.
Editor, what I like about this recent engagement is that the residents were encouraged “…to tap into the training opportunities being offered by the Government…” and these are quite abundant. I see that Minister McCoy reminded his audience that, “We (the Government) have to all work together with you to make sure that we can bring our youth on board, and to guide them in the right direction through the programmes of the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL) scholarship; and there is the Get Ready for Opportunities to Work (GROW) programme through the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) programme.
Through all the programmes that we offer as a Government, and that we can make available to the community.”
I sound a reminder that Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to education.” Yet, presently, millions of children remain out of school. People need to realise that education is not only a right, but a passport to human development that opens doors and expands opportunities and freedoms.
We all know that education makes people independent. It also increases knowledge, strengthens the mind, and forms character. Moreover, it is education that enables people to put their potential to optimum use, as it is also a type of reform for the human mind. As a caveat, by education, I mean both formal and informal, as well as technical education.
So, it is great to see that the Government understands this kind of mindset, and this forms the foundation for the thrust. According to Minister Walrond, who was part of the engagement, “The reason we are out here is that it is our job as a Government. We can’t sit in our offices in town and figure out what is happening with the residents in ‘B’ Field, Sophia. What are the things that are really affecting you? What are the things affecting your family, your community? And, as a Government, our service is to you; you, the people.”
I ask that Guyanese do not take this kind of input lightly. In many parts of the world, things are still not on the mend. For one, the COVID-19 outbreak has left a global education crisis. Most education systems in the world have been severely affected by education disruptions, and have faced unprecedented challenges. School closures brought on by the pandemic have had devastating consequences for children’s learning and well-being. The global picture remains dismal, as some 147 million children have missed more than half of their in-class instruction over the past two years. And it is estimated that this generation of children could lose a combined total of $17 trillion in lifetime earnings in present value. Overall, school closures have affected girls, children from disadvantaged backgrounds, those living in rural areas, children with disabilities, and children from ethnic minorities more than their peers.
With this in mind, kudos must be given to the Government, and Sophia must continue to capitalise. I personally feel very optimistic.