By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The National Round-table conference on Social Cohesion opened on Thursday, September 03 at the Arthur Chung Convention Center at Liliendaal with President David Granger making major pledges to remove the impediments of social cohesion.
The round-table conference is part of the government’s undertaking to stimulate more cohesive society that is respectful and accepting of the traditions of all the various cultures and norms in Guyana.
President Granger in his the address to the conference belabored the need for a cohesive society and pointed out some of the detractors to such.
According to the President, Guyana’s society has been “scarred by violence” which has “left a lingering legacy of distrust. He noted already monuments have been built to testify to Guyana’s struggles but it is now time to start building on the bases of communities.
But despite the charge to move forward, the President made it clear that Guyana must also remove the detractors to progress which includes poverty.
“The greatest impediment, so far, to social cohesion in Guyana have been political conflict and social violence,” the President underscored.
“Far too many Guyanese are classified as extremely poor…There can be no social cohesion in an economy characterized by huge gaps…we cannot give out people the good live they deserve if they are constantly preoccupied with finding something to eat and somewhere to sleep,” the President added.
Mr Granger also indicated that the government would be looking to enforce anti-discrimination laws as part of its campaign for social cohesion.
“Diversity is an asset; it does not necessarily translate into inclusivity…we want better relations among our religions, among our races and ethnic communities. We want great trust and cooperation, we want happy families and happy households…we want in other words social cohesion in all levels of our society,” said President Granger.
“The conversations offer us an opportunity as Guyanese to dialogue…what does it mean to be a Guyanese? What is the standard of Guyanese-ness that we are speaking?” she questioned.
Guyanese diplomat Sir Shridath Ramphal suggested that Civics being introduced as mandatory subject in the primary education system.
“A course in civics as an integral part of primary education…A standard text book on the subject should be produce,” he stated.
Meanwhile, British High Commissioner to Guyana, James Quinn stated that it is vital in multicultural societies such as Guyana’s that citizens are encouraged to have open and frank discussions.
“Promoting social cohesion is not something which is applicable only to government. Everyone has to play their part in working towards such a goal. The government alone cannot be expected to do everything. Civil society, politicians and political parties and individuals themselves have a role to play,” said Quinn.