…training teachers on social issuesIn an effort to cushion the mental and social effects of the recent laying off of more than 4,000 sugar workers in Region Six, the Guyana Teachers Union has teamed up with the Caribbean Voice, a non-profit organisation, to train teachers to deal with social and mental issues affecting students and the larger community.General Secretary of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), Coretta McDonald, noted that the union decided to begin collaboration with The Caribbean Voice with the interest of the students in mind. She added that while the union is concerned about the welfare of its teachers, the needs of the students are also of paramount importance.General Secretary of GTU, Coretta McDonald“The GTU is much more than just more money and better working conditions. We see our members as being important; we see our charges for the students and pupils as being even more important, because they’re the ones who are going to be our leaders for tomorrow. We have to ensure that we put systems in place for this. It is against that backdrop that we decided that we are going to have this partnership with The Caribbean Voice, because we recognize that in everything we cannot stand alone,” she explained.McDonald added that the union recognises that “in this partnership, because of the areas we are going to focus on, we are going to achieve a few things that GTU could not have done on (its) own — save lives, developing and nurturing new attitudes and behaviour patterns.”Coordinator of The Caribbean Voice (Guyana), Nazim HussainShe added that the GTU also recognises that the partnership will not only build teachers in terms of assisting them in developing new skills in terms of dealing with social ills, but it is going to enlighten them so that they can pass the knowledge on to students.The Guyana Coordinator of The Caribbean Voice, Nazim Hussain, has said that one such training exercise has already been conducted with over 100 teachers in the Canje, East Berbice area.“The sugar estates are closing. The Rose Hall Estate is one of the affected areas, and we have seen signs of school children being affected by the spill-off, and GTU said we should train the teachers so that they can train students and parents,” he noted.He explained that the teachers have been trained to deal with a range of issues, inclusive of suicide and violence of all sorts.The next leg of the training workshop with teachers would be held at the Berbice High School on January 26.
The leadership of the National Toshao Council (NTC) used the opportunity on Monday to condemn recent comments made by a Government Minister, who suggested that Amerindians are greedy.At the opening of the 11th Annual NTC conference, Chairman of the Council Joel Fredericks criticised Government over an incident which took place in the National Assembly.Fredericks said the organisation views the comments made by the Minister as a direct attack on Indigenous people’s identity and expressed disappointment with the Minister’s statement.“(There are) Ministers of the Government, insulting the Indigenous people and calling them greedy, also in Parliament without any consequence,” he lamented.He also raised concerns over the fact that no parliamentarian, from both the Government and Opposition, objected to the remarks purportedly made by the said Minister in Parliament.While touting the need for cohesion and unity, the NTC Chairman lamented that Amerindians are sometimes still treated as third class citizens in Guyana, but he contends that Amerindians deserve respect like every other racial group in the country.The head of the NTC also committed to rebuking any form of racial provocation and propaganda that seeks to damage the image and the identity of the country’s first peoples.“We see a member working for this Administration, openly attacking the Indigenous people’s identity, integrity and history. We advise caution because such uttering drives a deep wedge in a nation,” he added.Although the NTC Chairman did not name the Minister, he was indirectly referring to Minister within the Social Protection Ministry, with responsibility for Labour, Keith Scott.Scott during a parliamentary sitting in June reportedly said that Amerindians are greedy because they requested security in the lands they have held since time immemorial.Scott had also philosophised that sovereignty now belongs to the State, governed by the coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change Government (APNU/AFC).The Minister was debating the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) motion to halt the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the issues surrounding lands belonging to Amerindians and freed African slaves.Several Amerindian leaders and organisations have rejected Government’s decision to establish the CoI into land rights, on the grounds of lack of consultation among others.The NTC had said it views this decision as a “blatant attempt” to dispossess the Indigenous people of their lands and has argued that the two issues are unique and need to be addressed separately.The organisation said while it support reparations and repatriation of African Lands and addressing that issue with a great degree of urgency, the Indigenous lands issue cannot and should not be viewed in the same light, nor can it be addressed under the same framework.Although Amerindians leaders have met with President David Granger over this issue, the matter is yet to be resolved. No amicable solution has been found between parties.At the conclusion of the opening ceremony for the NTC Conference, a sod turning exercise took place at Sophia, Greater Georgetown, where the proposed site for the NTC Secretariat was revealed.Amerindian leaders from across the country will meet for the next several days during the conference to discuss issues facing their communities and talk about the successes they have achieved.The NTC conference opened on Monday at the Cyril Potter College of Education. The theme for this year’s conference is: “Good Governance – A brighter future for Guyana’s First peoples.”