Manickchand’s comments were disrespectful and irresponsible

Dear Editor,

Recent comments made by Minister of Education Priya Manickchand underscore a grave lack of understanding on the part of the Minister for the office she holds. To suggest or imply that someone has knowledge of another who is involved in committing sexual assault is irresponsible and out of place. Mind you, the Minister’s irresponsible comments took place in the National Assembly. What is even worse is that Minister Manickchand has decided that she will use her comment as a basis to launch a political campaign, apparently in the aid of sexual assault victims. This action is disrespectful to such victims and an assault on the intelligence of the masses.

I want to commend the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Raphael Trotman, for taking the stance he took against the Minister, who despite being given an opportunity to apologize for her comments, refused to apologize to APNU MP Jaipaul Sharma.  It is clear that the Minister has decided that she prefers not to speak in the National Assembly rather than apologize to her colleague for her irresponsible comments.  I guess the Guyanese people will not hear from the Minister on the budgetary allocations for her ministry.

It is truly unfortunate that the Ministry of Education in Guyana is headed by someone with the disrespectful attitude of Ms Manickchand. Her action has left much to be desired in terms of the education system. Very often we blame our children for acting in certain inappropriate ways – for being reckless, for hurling insulting and damaging comments at one another, for fighting in school, among other things, but how can we ask them not to do that which we ourselves do and condone.

Ms Manickchand’s action reflects a lack of concern for the office she holds and the children of this country. Her arrogance may explain why almost on a daily basis video clips are splashed on various social media network of students in their school uniform fighting on the desk tops in the classroom and in the public view.

Ms Manickchand must know that her comments belong to an era which has long gone. It is time that public officials hold themselves well and think about those they expect to lead before they act. Ms Manickchand should not only apologize to Mr Jaipaul Sharma, but also to the Speaker of the National Assembly, the children, parents and her colleagues in parliament. Guyanese children deserve better.

I wonder how Ms Manickchand would feel if a teacher asked a student who was disrespectful to another to apologize, but the disrespectful student refused? Our children are watching.

If Ms Manickchand was mature and not as arrogant as she has projected herself to be in the situation, she would have acted on the Speaker’s directive, if only for the children.

 Yours faithfully,

Lurlene Nestor

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