President David Granger yesterday urged the first batch of graduates from the Bertram Collins College of the Public Service to be the change that is needed to transform the sector into one which caters for the needs of the citizenry.
“Change is a continuous process and if public service is to change the country, much more needs to be done…The quality of public service this country needs cannot be delivered by simply walking off the street one day and calling yourself a public servant the next”, Granger said during the graduation ceremony which was held at GuySuCo’s former headquarters at Ogle, East Coast Demerara where the school is being housed temporarily.
The 58 cadets successfully completed a one year programme which was divided into three semesters. The areas of study includes Information Technology, Accounting, Budgeting, and the Legal System in Guyana, Language, Communication, Politics and International Relations. A second batch of cadets is presently being trained under the supervision of 31 administrative and academic staff.
Granger in delivering the feature address stated that 48 hours after taking the oath of office in 2015, he met public servants and the following day visited the Public Service training division located at D’Urban Street and Vlissengen Road. “Within the first five days of being president I had three encounters with the public service…So I was able to assess the situation, assess the facilities and try to craft a way forward. I took the decision after these meetings and these visits to promote the idea of a public service training centre”, he said.
“Today the graduation of the college’s inaugural cohort is an important landmark in the state’s quest for a professional Public Service. It is a significant step in the personal careers of the cadets but for the state it’s a leap forward to provide an efficient and accessible public service to all of our citizens”, he said.
Granger explained that the decision to establish the college was not “hasty, whimsical or fanciful” but rather it was “calculated and deliberate”. He stressed on the desire to develop a professional Public Service, which is “essential to the efficient delivery of public services”. He added that Guyana’s development demands the existence of a public service which must possess the education, motivation and have the ability to provide services which the nation needs.
He advised that public servants have to work very hard, be educated enough to be able to advise ministers and bring their experience to bear. According to Granger, ministers must be able to get the best advice from their Permanent Secretaries and the core of public servants.
“So they have to be educated if they are to provide correct advice to their ministers. They have to be experienced. Training in this college therefore is meant to inculcate those qualities in the Public Service. They must be able to comprehend the complexities of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the system of public administration at all three tiers of government, our central government works, our regional administration works, our municipal and local administration works”, he said.
“The public servant has to understand that we’re changing the system of regional administration now…It is our intention that in the coming years every region must have a capital town so that no person has to leave his or her region to come to Georgetown or go to another region to do his or her business”, he said.
In speaking directly to cadets and public servants, the president stated that providing these services “will be impossible unless the public servants themselves understand the country in which they live and appreciate the needs of the citizens whom they serve”.
He said that public servants must also possess an understanding of the values and the standards of the service which contribute to the functional competence of the public service. “It calls for team work and they promote leadership skills”, adding that professional public servants must therefore possess four major values – intelligence, integrity, impartiality and identity which are the hallmarks of a professional public servant.
Meanwhile the Senior Executive Director Col (ret’d) Lawrence Paul urged the cadets to be the “fresh breath of energy” that will be responsive to the needs of the public and the change agents that the sector needs. “They must be innovative…Be prepared to take calculated risks to change the archaic systems that are counterproductive and wasting tax payers’ money”, he stressed.
Paul who was at the time delivering the College Report noted that prior to the commencement of the training, few cadets were able to gain the required pass mark in the English and Speaking assessments. However that has since changed.
“I feel confident that you have the training to go into any department of the public service and perform effectively”, he said before urging the cadets to dispense their duties without fear. He warned that staying on the straight path would not be easy as they (cadets) will be seen as a threat, not a change agent.
“You have been trained to assist in developing a Public Service that must involve the public in the decision making process because let’s face it, they are paying you to serve them. Go there and perform your duties with impartiality,
objectivity and uphold your integrity”, he said.
Paul informed that while the search for an interim campus was excruciating, a permanent campus will be built at the Ogle location with a US$10M grant from the Government of China. This sum also covers the furnishing of what will be a modern state-of-the-art college.
He informed that the bill governing the College has been ratified by the Ministry of Legal Affairs and will be tabled in the National Assembly at its first sitting in 2018 and this will pave the way for the college becoming an autonomous entity. Further, he informed that accreditation for the college from the University of Guyana is currently being pursued and at the same time efforts are being made to satisfy the many requirements for accreditation standards.
Ato Vaughn was named the valedictorian for his exemplary performance during the programme. As such he was awarded the Presidential Shield of Excellence, the Best Graduating Student Shield, a Certificate of Excellence, a laptop computer and printer and a gift voucher. He was the best student for two out of the three trimesters.
William Charles was named the runner up best graduating student.