The members of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) and the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) were yesterday sworn in by President David Granger who said that they will insulate citizens and institutions against “influence and interference by the executive”.
Those appointed to the ERC are Dr. John O. Smith, the representative for the Christian Bodies; Sister Rajkumarie Singh for the Hindu Bodies; Roshan Khan for the Muslim Bodies; Norris Emanuel Witter for the Labour Movement Bodies; Major-General (Retd.) Norman Mclean for the Private Sector Organisa-tions; Deodat Persaud for the Youth Organisations; Ruth Howard for the Women’s Organisations and for the Cultural/Ethnic Bodies; Barrington Braith-waite representing Afro-Guyanese; Neaz Subhan representing Indo-Guyanese and Ashton Simon representing Indi-genous/Amerindian Bodies.
The members of the TSC are Avril Crawford, Allan Munroe, Elizabeth Ramlal, Amjad Shaw, Deborah Thomas, Barbara Thomas-Holder and Chief Education Officer Marcel Hutson, who is an ex-officio member.
Granger in brief remarks during the swearing in ceremony held at State House said that constitutional service commissions are enshrined, established and empowered by Guyana’s constitution.
Speaking specifically about the ERC, he said that this commission is intended among other
things to promote good relations, peace, tolerance and understanding, to provide equal opportunity among persons of various ethnic groups and to guard against ethnic discrimination.
He stressed that the constitution vests the ERC with functions which include a broad range of actions and interventions including education, monitoring, reviewing, recommending as well as research and study. The work of the ERC, the president said intends to ensure that there is ethnic harmony and social cohesion in the country.
With regard to the TSC, he said that that commission is mandated by the constitution to ensure that teachers’ appointments are undertaken by an independent body and are based on merit.
“The work of the Commission will contribute to ensuring a corps of qualified, trained and highly motivated teachers in our education system. It will ensure non-interference in their appointments and due process in the exercise of discipline,” the President noted.
TSC member Amjad Shaw said that it was a historic day because “it shows the commitment on the part of the government to have these constitutional bodies up and running so that we can execute this mandate”.
Shaw said that he is looking forward to working diligently to solve the problems currently faced by teachers.
“They are important people. They have played an important part…in building this nation, molding this nation. The responsibility of our teachers
cannot be overemphasized. They have been playing such a meaningful role in molding our children. They have additional responsibilities that are conferred upon them”, he said. He assured that he and the other members of the commission will work towards making the conditions of the lives of teachers better.
ERC member, Deodat Persaud while expressing knowledge of the challenges facing youth in Guyana said in brief comments to the media that he will use fairness and impartiality as a “hallmark in the execution of my function”. He said that despite his selection as a youth representative he had a responsibility to represent every citizen of Guyana.
“Everyone has to get a piece of the pie. There must always be fairness. People must not believe or feel discriminated”, he said.
Each commission has a life of three years and all members are eligible for reappointment at the end of that period.