President Bharrat Jagdeo said yesterday during the opening ceremony of the Eighth National Youth Parliament (NYP) that the forum is very important as it provides scope for changing the political culture in Guyana.
Jagdeo in addressing the members of the NYP and those gathered to witness the event at Buddy’s Hotel pointed out that in Guyana there are vibrant debates in the National Assembly but often the parliamentarians don’t set an example, especially to the youths, because the focus is just on winning the debate.
This year 14 youths made up the opposition while the proposition (government) consisted of 20 members who during the one-day parliament session put forward arguments on HIV/AIDS, marital rape, climate change, child abuse and abortion, among other issues.
The parliamentarians who are between the ages of 15 and 30 were chosen based on the essays they had submitted, in addition to completing two months of rehearsals in preparation for yesterday’s activity.
Students from Monar Educational Institute, Queen’s College, St. Joseph High, North Ruimveldt Secondary and several other city schools made up the audience.
Minister within the Ministry of Education Dr Desrey Fox, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony and Chairman of the National Youth Parliament, Kwame McKoy were also present at yesterday’s event.
President Jagdeo pointed out that unlike other debates, the debates in the NYP are not about winning or losing but about “doing the people’s business.”
“This (the NYP) is important because we wish to change the political culture of this land,” Jagdeo stressed.
He told the youths that by being members of the NYP they have the opportunity to set an example.
The President told the gathering that in order to debate adequately one must have a holistic view on national issues and the challenges facing the world. He pointed out that context is very important and highlighted the issue of the death penalty in the European perspective. He noted that while Europe does not have the death penalty, Caribbean countries still have it in their legislation.
According to him, context is very important to Guyana because we are different from other countries in the world. He told the young debaters that they have to be cognizant of international issues.
And turning to the issue of climate change, Jagdeo pointed out that Guyana is being affected although it is not contributing to the condition.
“Make sure you become the advocate of this new culture where people can be free to be who they want, belong to whichever party they want and free to walk this land