Thirty-five students and five teachers from the Bina Hill Institute Youth Learning Centre of Annai, North Rupununi, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) on Tuesday attended the second day of Budget debates as part of an ongoing United Nations (UN), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) project on Gender and Development, Good Governance and Leadership.
Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Sydney Allicock, addressing the National Assembly in relation to the students and teachers’ visit, said the students were there to experience the process of decision-making which would touch their lives and those of all.
“It is my hope that (they) will leave here with a positive impression of us here in the National Assembly… at this, the highest decision-making forum in the land,” Minister Allicock said.
The Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister explained to the National Assembly that the institute was birthed out of the need to fill the void created by the absence within the education system to provide for the technically inclined and for those who would not be able to benefit from a secondary education.
“There was an emergence of a spirit of volunteerism, fuelled by the passion, by the desire to see the full potential of the Indigenous young people. The result was that in 2001 the institute came into being,” the Minister said.
Minister Allicock continued that the young people that were present in the Chamber of Parliament Building understood and appreciated the commitment and sacrifices of the institute’s pioneers, while they are equally aware of the significant support that the National Assembly has offered to the institution and its beneficiaries over the years. The Minister said the students also recognised that support is flowing from both sides of the political divide of the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, the Bina Hill students in a letter to the National Assembly said that they are Indigenous youth from many different regions and communities in their second and final year in the institute.
The students are studying Gender Governance and Leadership as one of the courses, and the visit to Parliament was a practical component of the course which is supported by the FAO of the UN, and by the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry.
The course includes Sustainable Forestry, Organic Agriculture, Environmental Management, Basic Business and Eco-Tourism, Traditional Skills, Craft and Music. The students also manage their own farms. Additionally, the students sang to the Members of Parliament in appreciation for hosting them.