Amerindians in the mainstream
May 18, 2004
THE RECENT information that twenty Amerindians chosen from five of the country's ten administrative regions received their certificates as mining officers after an intensive two-week training programme is good news.
It strengthens the policy set in motion about ten years ago when the late President Cheddi Jagan announced at an Amerindian Captain's conference in Paramakatoi that in future Amerindians would be trained to take on most interior jobs. He noted, at the time, that they knew the area better and were best suited for the jobs involving many aspects of government in these areas.
The logical step to give those living in the interior the first opportunity to such employment was part of the PPP/Civic's thrust to have a level 'playing field' of opportunity for Guyana's Amerindian population.
In fact, the whole approach of the PPP/Civic to improve living standards and opportunities for Amerindians by first establishing for the first time in Guyana's history a Minister of Amerindian Affairs and taking on the responsibility of fulfilling the promise made at Independence in May or 1966 of sorting out the difficult problem of providing legal title to lands they have occupied for centuries.
This was largely ignored by the PNC government, which had signed the Independence instruments in 1966, which made this promise.
Nothing was done on this matter until the PPP/Civic won office in 1992. Now it is moving ahead under the distinguished leadership of Amerindian affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues.
Quality education and healthcare services for the interior have improved radically. Now, in addition, every year Amerindian students are awarded scholarships in much larger numbers than previously to study at in Georgetown at some of the best high schools and some are receiving overseas scholarships and many attend the University of Guyana.
Although we still have a long way to go to reach our desired goals, as we keep emphasizing, Guyana can claim that its indigenous population is growing and is better than many such communities in the South and North of us.