‘Children are our future’ – President Granger’s Independence message
Guyana’s 52nd Independence anniversary is an occasion for celebration. It commemorates a departure from past degradation. It articulates the nation’s aspiration for present and future generations.
Independence was not the result of a single event. It was the culmination of three hundred and fifty years of resistance, revolt and struggle against conquest, degradation, enslavement, indentureship and exploitation – the most dehumanising characteristics of European colonial rule.
The ancestors of the Guyanese people – Africans, Amerindians, Chinese, Europeans (including Portuguese), Indians and persons of mixed descent – fought against colonial rule. Their descendants, today, are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice. The words of our National Anthem remind us: “We are born of their sacrifice, heirs of their pains…”
Independence was the future for which our fore-parents fought but did not enjoy. Their struggle, inspired by workers’ agitation, embraced all social classes and gained political momentum with the introduction of constitutional change and the achievement of universal adult suffrage.
Independence, once achieved, enabled the elimination of the worst forms of discrimination, the extension of universal primary and secondary education and the emergence of local economic enterprises, among other changes.
Independence ushered in an era of national pride which has buoyed Guyanese society. National symbols – such as the national anthem, awards, coinage, flag, institutions, patriotic songs and stamps – helped to define our distinctive identity. Guyana took its place as a sovereign state in the international community.
Public education, at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels, became more accessible with the introduction of new multilateral schools, technical institutes, teachers’ college of education and a university.
Our policy for universal primary and secondary education will ensure that every child has a place in school by improving attendance through the provision of buses, boats and bicycles. Reforms of the public education sector are designed to improve attainment at examinations.
Public infrastructure, with the construction of new aerodromes, bridges and highways and the extension of public utilities and services such as the supply of electricity, housing and water, enhanced the quality of life.
Public health services, through neighbourhood clinics, local health centres and regional hospitals, improved child care, reduced the incidence of child mortality, non-communicable and vector-borne diseases among our growing population of children.
Social development has been emphasized by the reintroduction of the National Cadet Corps, the National Youth Corps and the reform of the New Opportunity Corps which enabled more children to attain their full potential. Increased emphasis on arts, culture and sports will help children to enjoy a happier childhood.
Guyana is a bountiful country. We are reminded, daily, about our potential. We are on the way to establishing a ‘green state’ in which the environment will be better protected, sustainable development of our natural resources will be pursued, cheaper and more abundant energy from renewable sources will be provided and the well-being of present and future generations will be assured.
Guyanese are a beautiful people. We, the children of the continents of earth – Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe – are on the way to creating a more cohesive society.
Independence is to be valued and safeguarded. Independence has laid the foundation for a more inclusive and democratic society which will guarantee the good life for the next generation. Independence is the best time to remember that children are our future. We need to bequeath to them, much more than we inherited from our own parents.
Happy Independence Anniversary to every Guyanese, wherever you are!