One student each from every educational district in Guyana wAS awarded US$1,000 (GY$200,000) along with a trophy on Friday at the Guyana-China Friendship Youth Leadership Development Awards.
Participating students had to focus on three areas – a community-based project, critique a piece of art either visual or performing or physical fitness activity.
The competition was only open to students from Grades Eight to Ten.
The inaugural leadership programme started in March this year and saw over 100 students registered. It is a collaboration between the Ministry of Education and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Guyana.
The winners who were recognized on Friday at a simple ceremony held at the National Centre for Research and Educational Development (NCERD) all showed exceptional leadership skills while maintaining their academic performance. The programme is intended to contribute to the development of the country.
“I believe I might be looking at the future artists, activists, majors, Parliamentarians even ministers or even President of Guyana. I am sure you will make great contributions to the development of your country,” the Chinese Ambassador to Guyana Guo Haiyan said.
The Ambassador said all of the students are critical thinkers, community builders and leaders.
The development of education and capacity building is an important area in the current China and Guyana bilateral relations. Through this partnership, Guyanese youth are provided with opportunities to study in world-renowned Chinese universities.
“The winners of today’s awards are welcome to apply, your application shall be prioritized if you can meet the required criteria,” the Chinese Ambassador revealed.
Xaria Holder, a student of Queen’s College emerged as one of the winners of the programme. She hails from Wortmanville, Georgetown and carried out a survey to determine the main issues facing the community.
“As a result of the survey, I chose to take care of the needs that I can readily provide like food, sanitary supplies and school supplies; I received generous donations from various organizations and individuals,” Holder explained.
She has managed to provide hampers for 16 families and says with the money she won, she will continue to prepare hampers for vulnerable families.
“I intend to make this project permanent and share hampers at the beginning of each school term,” Holder said.
“That is what we wanted to start to encourage this countrywide search for leadership,” Minister of Education Priya Manickchand stated.
She explained that the programme was designed to motivate children to explore their talents and skills in art, explore leadership ability and writing. She lauded the students who “stepped up and show they can lead.”
Sixteen-year-old Alister Henry from Moruca in Region One attends President’s College on the East Coast of Demerara. He also conducted a survey in his community and decided to set up a proper dumpsite.
“…my community didn’t have a proper dumpsite and people were using drainage systems as dumping sites and the place was getting a bad odour,” the young man explained.
To take his community project to another level, Henry is now trying to garner support from the government. He has since led a major clean-up activity with community leaders and volunteers.
Rahul Chu, 15, who is also from Region One and attends the North West Secondary School utilised this opportunity to better the roads in his community.
“Basically, my project was based on roads, wherein my community the roads are very bad…and that is why I embarked on this project so that I can improve my community.”
For 15-year-old Atoya Harvey, who attends the Uitvulgt Secondary School in Region Three, a community recreational facility was decided on.
“Most of the children in my community don’t get time to come out because of the COVID pandemic, so with the playground, they can get to free up and build their immune system by doing different type of activities.”
She is being supported by her teachers, parents and others in the community.