By Stacy Carmichael-James
The Social Cohesion Strategic Plan 2017-2021 Validation Workshop was held today (Thursday, March 16, 2017) under the theme “Building a Unified Guyana” and according to Project Coordinator Sharon Patterson, the Ministry of Social Cohesion now has a blueprint with input from a myriad of stakeholders, albeit in draft form for the enhancing and promoting of Social Cohesion in Guyana.
Subject Minister Dr. George Norton in his address extended the offer for the Opposition to play an active part in the Coalition Government’s Social Cohesion efforts. According to Norton, there have been many efforts to get the Opposition involved, but these have thus far proven futile.
Dr. Norton dubbed the event as one of the most important for the Ministry of Social Cohesion noting that the Validation Workshop represents the final methodological stage to confirm the input, strategy and policy interventions.
President David Granger in the feature address reflected on Guyana’s colonial past, highlighting that 350 years of colonialism has left wounds. The Head of State said ethnic polarization remains in Guyana’s political relations, deeming it an unfortunate legacy, which spawns social marginalization.
He called for the embracing of inclusivity at the political and social levels to involve other stakeholders, citizens and the community, enhancing social protection, reducing unemployment and ensuring equal access to education, so as to ensure greater equality in opportunities. Granger said Social Cohesion is the thread to bind the various groups together.
Also speaking at the workshop, UN Resident Coordinator Mikiko Tanaka commended the commitment and effort of both the previous and current Ministers of Social Cohesion and their team for the draft strategic plan, noting that there were numerous discussions every step of the way, mostly on inclusion, transparency and participation.
The purpose of the Strategic plan is to give effect to the desire on the part of national stakeholders to pursue a coherent and structured process for enhancing and promoting social cohesion in Guyana, including well-articulated sets of intervention areas, objectives and actions, as well as benchmarks, timelines and implementing partners to ensure their timely and successful implementation.