Beverly Roberts’ description of the government’s One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) programme as an election gimmick is most amusing (‘The energy of youths needs to be channelled to developing a just, equitable and developing society‘ SN, Sept 5), especially coming from a spokesperson of the Alliance For Change (AFC). If there’s any political entity fit to pronounce on election gimmickry it is the AFC, as it is this party which perpetrated the biggest election gimmick to date in 2006 via the Dick Morris poll. The Chantelle Smith/Gaumattie Singh seat exchange was an election gimmick; so too was the 2010 CADRES poll commissioned by the AFC which put Raphael Trotman ahead of several other presidential contenders. Her categorization of a programme in which thousands of laptops will be distributed in an effort to fulfil the broad objective of catalyzing community growth and empowerment, stimulating intelligent young minds and enhancing the capacity for learning as an election gimmick is itself laughable. The PPP has no need to resort to ‘gimmickry’ or ‘bribery,’ as its record of progress is there for all to see. It is ‘of the people’ and ‘for the people’ and has a visible presence in every village, community, etc. The PPP also believes that solid political groundwork can never be substituted for a few newspaper ads, the odd parliamentary walk-out, profuse letter-writing in the local newspapers, the odd five-man protest and the occasional outlandish press statement.
But it is evident judging by the low turnout at AFC events, whether they take the form of conventions, rallies and public or bottom-house meetings, that Guyanese have no interest in hearing about the AFC’s unrealistic and far-fetched promises or the constant PPP/C bashings meted out by mostly disgruntled ex-PPP members. So I am sure the almost 3000 youths who attended and interacted with policy-making officials at Impress Youth have ignored Ms Roberts’ statements. Programmes such as the Youth Entrepreneurial Skills Training (YEST) and the Enhanced Public Trust Security and Inclusion (EPTSI) conducted by the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) are not election gimmicks. Rather they utilize the resources available to combine skills training and entrepreneurship as one way of enhancing the employment potential of young people who have left the formal school system and need to be gainfully occupied. And young people are interested in hearing about programmes such as these which provide them with the necessary skills to be able to develop themselves as our country develops.
The hinterland scholarship programme which recently produced 68 graduates and the Hararuni project are just two examples of efforts by the government to empower our Amerindian brothers and sisters. The success of the Hararuni project is being spoken of far and wide. It ensures both food security and agricultural expansion in a sustainable manner and has yielded immediate benefits to the people in this Amerindian village as well as others. It is also a simple and cost-effective model which appeals to young people because it promotes agriculture with technology since it involves the technique of drip irrigation. Both of these ventures run contrary to the claims of Ms Roberts and her party that the PPP has failed in any way to revitalize the hinterland economy. It also exposes their penchant for deception.
It is these and many other ventures which lured participants to Impress Youth. And as I wrote earlier, youths are tired of hearing washed up, disgruntled former PPP politicians vent their anti-PPP spleen, irrespective of the refreshments and gifts that are on offer.
This is evident from the low turn-out at all AFC youth events and this should be of great concern to Ms Roberts and the others.