From deep inside the belly of our society, like a quiet hookworm eating away at the core of our country, a devastating social decay is overtaking our people.
We don’t see any monumental outward sign of this inner crumbling. The devastation is slow, hidden and happens bit by bit, just like the Atlantic Ocean eroding our coastline one speck of dirt at a time. You cannot see it happening, but the effects of the decay show up to devastating effect eventually.
Such it is with the Guyanese homeland today. Our social decay has reached a point of devastation, and we must offer urgent solutions.
As much as our skilled folks migrate to secure and develop themselves and family, the local education system fails to prepare the local population for the demands of the 21st century global economy.
In fact, re-migrants, or Guyanese who have lived and studied abroad before returning home, contribute significantly to the society today. Without these few folks, some key institutions would be crippled.
Across the land, from Essequibo all across to Berbice and deep into the hinterland, we see communities facing the future handicapped with a crippling shortage of skilled human capital.
And government, political parties, the private sector organizations, and even many non-governmental organizations seem inept and unable to tackle the crisis.
If we are to develop our people, we must solve this crushing problem. We cannot build a 21st century society without adequate and competent human capital.
How do we secure the human capital to make development happen?
Everyone acknowledges that lack of skilled human resource capital is this society’s biggest problem. Yet, no one seems to come up with a solution to the crisis. The complacency, inefficiency and lax management practices across the society may benefit the status quo, and so changing it may not be in the best personal interest of today’s leaders. They benefit – in power, material gain and lordship over a passive people. Why change such a situation?
But we must demand a transformation of the way our society functions. We must demand a society without corruption. We must demand a society that respects decency in its public behaviour, ethical behaviour on the street, and fair play for every single Guyanese.
We cannot continue to accept things as they are, because deep inside, our society rots, and would one day crumble into utter social chaos.
We must develop a deliberate strategy to cultivate and generate a human resource capital base second to none in the region.
Responsibility for providing this solution lies with Education Minister, Priya Manickchand. Seen as a bright, ambitious and professional leader, the Minister has shown she has the qualities of leadership to turn this country around, through a sound strategy to urgently transform the human resource capital of her country.
Yet, that is not happening. Nothing really revolutionary has emanated from the Ministry of Education since the new leadership took office. We saw nothing visionary in the Budget, despite Education receiving a good chunk of State funding.
The Opposition also seems lost and clueless when it comes to solving the skills crisis facing this country.
There seems to be a frightening phenomenon at play, where local leaders take advantage of the crisis to enlarge their own power base. Many current community leaders would be displaced were this country to start employing qualified professionals to get the job done – the job of development.
Ending this slow erosion that eats away at the institutions of this land calls for a sound strategic action plan.
At the parliamentary level, we need to see urgent action to bring in international managers, experts and competent engineers and so on.
This newspaper has reported on road work in Linden that crumbles within weeks of construction, breeding suspicion of heavy corruption, but also clearly a criminal waste of State funds. A cadre of international engineers available for such projects would solve such a crisis.
We must eradicate the notion that “foreigners” would take away from locals.
Reports indicate that many of the private business owners transfer their wealth to safe bank accounts in the Caribbean and North America. So the thinking that local contractors should receive State contracts, to keep the local wealth in local hands, doesn’t really hold up.
We see the effects of this lack of competent human capital in crumbling roads, in poor management of State resources, in lack of vision and conscience in institutions across the country.
Parliament must draft a Plan of Action and demand that government work that plan, to stem this internal bleeding of the society’s vital nerve centre.
We need skilled people. Plain and simple. And what plan is there in place to secure a cadre of skilled experts to tackle crucial aspects of the development process?
Who has drafted such a plan? Has anyone, anywhere in this society, developed a vision and a strategy to solve this crisis?
What are the thoughts of the Minister of Education on the crisis?
We see the Parliamentary Opposition obsessed about corruption and financial mismanagement in the last budget debate, and rightly so. But everyone ignored this crushing crisis slowly sinking the body politic into a quagmire of generational deterioration.
A society concerned with the primary task of daily survival may not see skills shortage as a crucial problem. But, if nothing is done about the crisis, one day that primary concern for survival would become a frightened cry for security from social chaos.
For chaos will erupt from the underbelly of a society rotten at its core with illiteracy, gross poverty from widespread unemployment, and the conscienceless masses lacking the basics of ethics or morals.
Ms Manickchand must know that deep in the heart of our society, such a social decay already eats away at our future as a developed nation. The Minister has the power to turn things around, to initiate a new tomorrow, to stop the rut, to employ a pool of 1,000 international experts who would repair our rotting inner core.