Guyana’s children are in danger of being crippled for the rest of their lives, and no-one is paying attention! Teachers have complained that they have to shout to gain the attention of their pupils. “I’m getting hoarser and hoarser, and I don’t know what’s wrong with these children that I have to shout so much,” one very conscientious teacher complained. If you live next door to a school, you’ve probably asked yourself the same question. The answer to that is sadly this: the children are going deaf, they are suffering from lack of concentration due to sleep deprivation, and are being prevented from growing into their full potential.
Noise pollution in Georgetown and its environs has reached ridiculously untenable levels, and is quite simply a public health hazard. Deafening music from bars, homes, and gas stations in residential areas, from music carts and cars travelling along roads, and from minibuses taking passengers to work and to school, is literally destroying the minds of people, especially those at a tender age.
Loud noise is an instrument of torture! Hitler and his Nazis can tell you that, as can people in the espionage business. Yet every day, in towns and cities, the population of ‘Green Guyana’ must face this horror. Few escape. Some people fight against it, and succeed, but success is often only fleeting. Most people, though, are cowed by the ugly possibility that someone connected to the noise-making establishment might throw disfiguring acid on them if they complain.
Imagine being unable to protect your children, or yourself, from a daily debilitating torture, yet still being expected to produce, at school and at work, on par with societies that don’t have this problem. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if researchers find that extreme noise pollution is a contributing factor to Guyana’s shockingly high suicide rate. When you feel helpless and powerless, when you can’t think straight in the face of other stressors, when sleep deprivation shortens your temper and increases your frustration at life, that’s a recipe for disaster.
Author and retired Econometrician