Government funding for Bina Hill school is under threat

Dear Editor,

The North Rupununi District Development Board is a fully autonomous Amerindian NGO that has no political, religious or other institutional affiliation.  We represent the interest of our 16 constituent community members in Region 9, to facilitate general development and much of our work has been focused on sustainable social and environmental development.

As an Amerindian organization, we recognize that our livelihoods are tied to the environment and as a result, much of our programme work has focused on environmental and cultural sustainability.  We recognize change and growth and as a result, we are also involved in monitoring and mapping our way forward.

As a result, we have developed several programmes which address our concerns.  To bring ideas to fruition, we work in partnership with other NGOs, the private sector, and many other stakeholders including the Government of Guyana, who all bring their assets to the table for successful implementation.  We find that this model of the ‘three legged stool,’ where each partner is a leg of the stool, upholding development, has been a successful model. Remove one leg and the stool falls.

A few of our programmes include the Makushi Research Unit, Community Tourism, the Arapaima Management Plan, Community Monitoring Reviewing and Verification (CMRV), Radio Paiwomak 97.1 FM, and the Bina Hill Youth Learning Centre.

From 2005 to now, the NRDDB has received a government subvention of $6M per year to support the Bina Hill Youth Learning Centre; this “home sown and home grown” technical school provides robust, alternative course work in the areas of agriculture, forestry, natural resource management and culture continuity, maths, english, information technology and life skills round out the curriculum to provide students with the “skills for living” in the region.

We recognize some of the challenges of living in the hinterland as well as many of the benefits; the BHI school is one of the solutions for youth in the region as it provides opportunity in context for developing livelihoods. During the school year, students live on campus; meals, accommodation, uniforms, texts books, tools, sports equipment, access to computers, and field trips are all provided.  The government’s annual subvention has been a major contributor to this as have been other agencies.

Now the Government of Guyana’s funding for the Bina Hill Institute is under threat as was published in the national newspapers on Saturday.  We would like to make it clear that support to the school has been used in an accountable manner to support:

14 teachers hired over 8years

Opportunity for hands on learning in the areas of agriculture, forestry, natural resource management, culture and craft

32 students from Regions 8 and 9 annually enrolled and learning in focal areas

230 students graduating between 2005 and now

Due to their high skill level, many graduates from the Bina Hill school are now employed in and outside the region as tour guides at local lodges including the Iwokrama International Centre, as hospitality clerks, project managers and coordinators, data analysts, research assistants, financial clerks, GFC field officers and administrators.

We would like to thank all contributors to the Bina Hill School for helping grow this success.

Yours faithfully,

Ivor Marslow

for North Rupununi

District Development Board

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