Minister of Public Service Dr Jennifer Westford has said the administration’s investment in youth and providing opportunities for them to access tertiary training is unparalleled within this hemisphere, with over 2,800 youths having benefitted.
“Let us think about any other country in this hemisphere or out of this hemisphere who would have given the opportunity for its citizens, especially its young citizens to be trained free of cost, there is no other country, no other government that can boast of this development and we must give credit where credit is due,” Westford was quoted as saying by the Government Information Agency (GINA) during her address at Impress Youth Expo, organised by Youths for the PPP/C last week.
GINA said over 5,000 youths assembled at the Guyana International Con-ference Centre for the expo, which was aimed at allowing them to discuss and seek clarification from government officials on policies and programmes for development.
Westford was one of several government officials who addressed the youths. She encouraged them to value education and to set their aims high. Westford, who also holds a masters degree in international studies, shared some of her earlier academic training as a Cuban scholarship awardee.
“As I look around today I see faces, I see expressions, I see persons who want something, who are looking for something that is out there, something that they can reach for and let me assure you that something is within your grasp,” she assured them. She also noted that the vigour, innovativeness and optimism of youth are what Guyana needs to advance.
According to Westford, youth development has been one of the main pillars of the PPP/C administration since it took office in 1992. It was this focus that saw an accord with then Cuban President Fidel Castro for 500 scholarships in medicine. “Imagine that 500 of our young Guyanese, our brilliant Guyanese being trained as medical doctors, coming back to this country to serve our people,” she said.
The cadre of trained professionals also included veterinary doctors and engineers, agricultural scientists, meteorologists, engineers and agronomists.
Within this group, there are six students from the hinterland who have returned as medical doctors and who are serving their communities. The minister also referred to Wowetta, Region Nine Senior Counsellor Bertie Xavier, who sits on the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. “With all the talk that we hear from our developed countries about rights for indigenous people and human rights, tell me which of those countries can boast about giving equal opportunities and rights to their indigenous people as we are doing here in our country. I can answer: none of them!” she said.
Westford also said that with the Information Com-munication Technology sector rapidly emerging in Guyana, the endless benefits to youths have been the reason so much attention has been given to technology and youth.