Minister of Social Cohesion Dr. George Norton on Wednesday announced plans for the construction of new national monuments as part of his ministry’s work programme for the coming year.
Speaking during the debate on the government’s proposed 2018 budget, Norton told the National Assembly that his ministry will be working under the theme “Fostering Harmonious Relationships and Building a Unified Country Enabled by Culture, Youth and Sports” next year.
He noted that there is an allocation of over $700 million under the Cultural Preservation and Conser-vation Programme, which will see the construction of buildings for the National School of Music and the National School of Theatre Arts and Drama. He said the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, the National Museum and the Museum of African Heritage will also be upgraded. He also mentioned the construction of an Institute of Creative Arts. Plans for the establishment of the Institute were announced in last year’s budget and it was supposed to have been completed this year.
Under the National Trust, he added, the country will also see the restoration of Fort Zeelandia and the St. George’s Cathedral as well as the construction of four new monuments: the 1823 Memorial Monument, the Chinese Arrival Monument, the Portuguese Arrival Monument and Ruimveldt Massacre Monument.
“Cohesion in our country means that every Guyanese must be given an equal opportunity to showcase their heritage, as well as understand and celebrate the contributions of others in developing the country,” he said.
Norton also explained that the ministry’s budgetary allocations will also be used to host regional exhibitions and workshops and to conduct training in all of the Administrative Regions and Georgetown. Activities will vary from children’s camps to training in music, drama and visual arts.
“We would build cohesion and harmony by including all and creating an environment for youth exchanges. This is how our youths will be able to build partnerships, synergies and have appreciation for differences,” he said.
Norton also noted that the Guyana Film Festival will have a different form come next year, as it will have a new and broader spectrum of participants
Since the Guyana National Museum will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2018, Norton pointed out that commemoration activities will be held.
In terms of youth programmes, Norton said over $1 billion will be invested for the development of the youth population, which would also be integrally involved in decision making processes.
“The ministry wants to meaningfully contribute to the development of the youth population, who are politically, economically and socially empowered either by attaining the relevant skills for employment or to be able to venture out on their own,” he added.
Norton also stated that an assessment of all youth programmes will be done.