As he delivered the feature address at the opening of Amerindian Heritage Month celebrations, at the Sophia Exhibition Centre, Greater Georgetown, President David Granger said his Government is committed to bridging the gaps between the coastland and the hinterland through education.
The President said Guyana’s multicultural heritage is regarded as a national treasure alluding to the various celebrations that honour the various ethnicities. He said Amerindian Heritage Month is testament to the high regard in which Guyana’s first peoples are held. He noted that while the month is one of celebration, it is also a time to reflect on the disparities between the remote villages and the capital, adding that plans need to be put in place to address that.
The Head of State said every Guyanese is guaranteed equal rights and opportunities and that Government should make it its prime focus to eliminate the inequalities that exist particularly between the coast and hinterland. He referenced his Plan of Action (PoA) that was presented to the National Toshaos Council in 2015 and noted that it is still relevant to this day, since it deals with some of the very issues that are affecting Amerindian people.
“The Plan of Action aims at reducing inequalities between Indigenous people and the rest of the population and we must do so by eradicating poverty by promoting employment and by ensuring greater economic opportunities and increased access to the people of the hinterland of public services,” he noted.
Granger further related that the PoA has been guiding the Government’s conduct and policies as it relates to the empowerment of the Indigenous population.
“We are concerned with eliminating inequalities among the Guyanese people and we believe that education is the surest and swiftest way to eliminate those inequalities. The Government is taking steps to improve hinterland education access; improved attendance and attainment,” he added.
He noted that the Government is already on a path to improved education access since they have recorded improved attendance.
He added that Government is working to ensure that the gap is closed, relating that village economies are being stimulated, infrastructure being improved, and agro-processing is at an all-time high.
“There is a silent revolution in agro-processing and micro enterprise taking place in more than 200 Indigenous communities. These enterprises will help to reduce inequalities. Employment is essential to eliminating poverty. The Hinterland Entrepreneurship Youth Programme is providing training and seed capital to engage young people in economic enterprises,” Granger said.
Granger also pledged his Government’s full support to working with the NTC to address the issues plaguing the Indigenous communities.
He alluded to the creation of frontline villages in Indigenous communities to address the influx of Venezuelans fleeing their country due to the current economic crisis. He said humanitarian services have to be provided to them and that those communities are now serving as the entrance points for those refugees.
Meanwhile, Indigenous People’s Affairs Minister Sydney Allicock said Guyana is on the cusp of new development and that we are transitioning from the use of fossil fuel to renewable energy. He explained that the Indigenous communities have been utilising renewable energy from time immemorial, adding that there is great potential for solar, hydro and wind energy in Guyana.
He called on the villages to develop their Village Improvement Plans since it is integral that each village map their development, no what resources are available, what they need and how they can achieve their targets.
Additionally, NTC Chair Nicholas Fredericks called on Government and international community to work hand-in-hand to address the issues affecting Indigenous peoples.
Amerindian Heritage Month is being observed under the theme ““Proud of our Indigenous identity, celebrating in Unity.” The exhibition at Indigenous Village, Sophia, would run until September 5.