It came as a shock to learn that the once proud Critchlow Labour College is slowly being suffocated to death. By all accounts, student enrolment has dropped considerably and teachers are leaving at the first opportunity. Many courses and programmes are not being run or will soon be stopped. The situation amounts to a national scandal. I am puzzled I have not seen reports of this crisis at Critchlow in the news media. It cannot be that the media consider the matter too insignificant. Editor, over the years, the college has provided an opportunity for advancement to many Guyanese.
Without it, many persons, especially those who may have stumbled at the first few hurdles in life, would have fallen by the wayside. We have seen the effects brought on by the closure of the Guyana National Service. Are those in authority similarly intent on condemning the college to the scrap heap? What are we to think?
The government, I gather, has withheld its monthly subvention from the college over the last several years. Since, as in the case of education institutions generally, most of this money would have been used to cover essential labour costs (salaries for lecturers and non-academic staff, etc), the government should inform the public what exactly is its grouse and why such a drastic response is its best course of action.
Editor, I contend that whatever problems the government may have with the administration of the college, to play political football with the aspirations of so many young people borders on callousness. It is no secret that the government is hell-bent on emasculating the GTUC, but it should not entangle the Critchlow Labour College in this scheme. It is beyond understanding.
Even as I say this, I recognize the need for NGOs and social organizations to run their business in a more professional and transparent manner.
Those that receive government subventions, such as Critchlow, must give the government and other stakeholders little reason to raise complaints about accountability. Their houses must always be kept in order. And I agree that the government must insist that taxpayers’ money be well spent (the government itself must lead by example). Withholding the subvention, however, hurts far more people than it helps.
It hurts the children of the very taxpayers the government professes to represent. If the government has honest intentions and is genuinely concerned with the young and the vulnerable, there are far less destructive ways to get its concerns addressed at the college. This matter is too important for the public to remain in the dark.