PPP/C went low: APNU+AFC has gone lower

On 6 October 2016, Stabroek News published an article ‘Cabinet deeply perturbed at Grade Six math results’, the content of which, if true, has certainly taken official education reporting to a new low, and this is magnified by the hackneyed solutions to the problem that are proffered.

Structural disenfranchisement

Last week I spoke of the growing perception, even among the supporters of the APNU+AFC government, that what happened at the last general elections was, as they say on the streets, an exchange not a change of government.

Social cohesion lite

Understandable though it may be, is it not ironic that precisely at the time President David Granger was telling the 19th Biannual Congress of his People’s National Congress Reform that ‘We need not be divided, we need to build cooperative relationships at all levels of society’, he is set upon a constitutional course to remove ‘Cooperative’ from the Cooperative Republic of Guyana?!

Social cohesion and co-operatives

When the government created the Ministry of Social Cohesion it placed ethnic conflict, the easing of which is contingent upon the behaviour of its mortal political enemy, the People’s Progressive Party, at the centre of its agenda, and some would say that in our circumstances failure is the default mode of any such enterprise.

Africans and APNU+AFC: wishful thinking?

After outlining some of the historical hardships that confronted African Guyanese, the dire condition in which Africans still find themselves and some of the more recent international and nations responses to this condition, President David Granger, in his presentation to the Fourth Annual State of the African Guyanese Forum organized by the Cuffy 250 Committee, concluded that “This is the time to organize and mobilise so that at the end of the decade, the Government and the Guyanese people can report confidently they have achieved the objectives of the United Nations International Decade for people of African Descent.

Jagdeo has not projected a modern vision

Stuart Kaufman, speaking of extreme cases of ethnic violence, suggests that politicians can only stir up ethnic discontent if there is some historical experience to support their positions.

TVET and education reform

The editorial ‘Vocational education’ (SN 15/07/2016) has rightly called upon the government to give greater priority to technical and vocational education and training  (TVET).

Can Guyana afford parking meters?

‘Cities love meters – they are a “captive” income source. … unless you know someone or are a “public figure”, the city will tow your car if you have too many tickets.

Government and GPSU: politics without vision

About a week ago, with ‘tears in their eyes’, some of the executive members of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) shared with the Stabroek News ‘their bewilderment at the lack of movement on the part of the administration to begin the collective bargaining process despite making several public statements about its importance’ (GPSU alarmed at gov’t lack of engagement on public service wage talks).

PPP/C can win in 2020 if…

In the run up to the 2015 elections the talk among the APNU+AFC hierarchy was that they expected to win by about three seats, but as it turned out they won by less than one.

Another democracy without political virtue

Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham became an autocrat, dictator, whatever description suits you, under our 1966 independence constitution, with its non-executive governor/president titular head of the government and armed forces; prime minister directly answerable to the national assembly; Westminster-type separation of powers; right to prorogation, etc.

The coalition: Governing without a united national interest

So far as I am concerned, it is inconceivable, particularly in the context where first-come-first-served is the order of the day, that about two days after you would have promised to seat together about fifty relatively important persons at a public event like the Golden Jubilee flag-raising ceremony, you would not have cordoned off a designated section.

Jubilee celebrations or African fest?

The apparent massive Afro-Guyanese support for and participation in and the apparent Indo-Guyanese absence from activities associated with the golden jubilee celebrations have led some to claim that the event will be more of an African fest than a national celebration than those who gathered to hoist the Golden Arrowhead on 26 May 1966 would have expected.

Beterverwagting: a better expectation

Beterverwagting (Baron) is one of our villages whose history is laced with legends, among which the win by the 8th of May Movement (8MM) at the recent local government elections will certainly takes its place.

Guyana needs a national names authority

There has been much comment on the proclivity of the present regime and its associates to name and rename various national objects and institutions, and this article has been prompted by the dispute over its wish to rename Ogle International Airport and the possibility that the City Council might give rise to more controversy if it still has on its agenda the renaming of 100 city streets for our Jubilee celebrations.

Single Grade 6 placement is anti-working class

If nothing else, in our condition, secondary school placements based on the single Grade 6 assessment (NGSA), like its predecessor the Secondary School Secondary Examination (SSEE), will do nothing to aid stakeholder participation and thus will be anti-working class.

Reverting to the old placement system is retrograde

“Educational assessment must overcome a central dilemma, … If there are no consequences attached to a test, then it will do little to motivate healthy change within the educational system; however, if the result of an assessment is highly consequential, then it may engender unproductive or undesirable outcomes such as narrowing the curriculum, “teaching to test,” and weakening the role of teacher” (Braun, Henry, et al (2006) Improving Education Through Assessment, Innovation, and Evaluation.

Prisons

What a cost when, in a most gruesome manner, seventeen individuals lost their lives as a result of having been taken into custody by a society that promised to safeguard all their other freedoms apart from their right to liberty.

Did Burnham plot to kill Rodney?

Hours after Walter Rodney was killed and his body taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital, Forbes Burnham spoke to a well-connected young woman who was a family friend and a nurse at the hospital, saying he had heard that Rodney had been killed and wanted her to go find the body and confirm that it was indeed his.

Rodney suspected WPA was compromised

Not long after Walter Rodney met his death in June 1980, I was at Castellani House, the president’s residence on Vlissengen Road, waiting to see Forbes Burnham, when Vice-President Desmond Hoyte entered the room.

The ‘people’ is not yet born

An admixture of our unique political context and nearly two decades of autocratic PPP/C rule have given rise to notions of how we should conduct political discourse that appear to me neither practical nor complete.

The national unity credo

‘Practice without theory is blind. Theory without practice is sterile. Theory becomes a material force as soon as it is absorbed by the masses.

Team Benschop’s Agenda

To adequately manage local government, or anything else for that matter, one should have some general philosophical understanding of what local government should be and is and, given existing resources, what can be done to help it towards its goal.

Benschop unchastened

Etched in the public mind about Mark Benschop is his incarceration, for five years, in solitary confinement for treason followed by an unconditional pardon by then President Bharrat Jagdeo.

Benschop for mayor?

I’d bet my bottom dollar that a substantial number of those who wanted to see the PPP/C out of government and supported the coalition are now extremely disappointed with the performance of the latter.

The absence of a salient vision

Say what you like about Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham, they and thus their governments had holistic and audacious views of Guyana and its development.

Raiding the public purse: pay and patronage

Last week I stated that during my presentation to the Public Service Commission of Inquiry I argued that after only a few months in office, the present regime succumbed to ethnic entrepreneurship and began undercutting its stated principles of what a public servant should be.

A neutral public service

I have some pretty definite views about the Guyana public service, born of some theoretical understanding of how and what it should be doing in modern times and a quite lengthy sojourn in it.

Brassington

On the morning of 4th June last year, I was at the Guyana Revenue Authority headquarters on Camp Street to collect my driver’s licence and had an interesting encounter with the now besieged Mr.

Participatory possibilities in law making

Last week, in commenting on the controversy that arose when the government sought to bulldoze three pieces of legislation (the Municipal and District Councils and Local Authorities (Amendment) Bill, the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill and the Anti-Terrorism and Terrorist Related Activities Bill) through the National Assembly at one sitting and the government’s response that the PPP/C’s regime had acted similarly, I concluded by suggesting that the current government and its supporters would do best to reference their behaviour against regional and international best practices rather than past PPP/C behaviour.

A strong line should be held against ministers

A few weeks ago, a furore arose over the regime’s stated intention to push three pieces of legislation (the Municipal and District Councils and Local Authorities (Amendment) Bill, the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill and the Anti-Terrorism and Terrorist Related Activities Bill) through parliament at one sitting.

The Paris agreement: throwing in the towel is not an option

After the First World War, armed with a ‘progressive’ fourteen-point plan that called for, among other things, the formation of a ‘general association of nations’, United States President Woodrow Wilson landed in Europe and was able to convince the relevant world that such a body (the forerunner of the United Nations) would be a useful international tool.

The Paris climate change agreement

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) which concluded last Saturday 12th December in Paris succeeded in delivering a universal framework agreement that concretises the direction of the climate change discourse and more importantly affirms the scope of the problem and the directions in which solutions should be sought.

Power relations at the Climate Summit

Notwithstanding the fact that most states are said to be independent and sovereign and the governments of small and weak countries are usually not bashful in laying claims to this status, global political economy suggests a different story.

Paris Climate Summit requires raised ambitions

On 30th October 2015, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) published its Global Response to Climate Change Keeps Door Open to 2 Degree C Temperature Limit, which synthesized the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) from some 146 countries, including all the developed and three quarters of the developing countries, including Guyana.

Managing the global commons

A few weeks ago, this column drew attention to the upcoming Paris Climate Summit (COP 21), which will be held under the aegis of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) between November 30 and December 11 (UNFCC Paris 2015: the meaning of success.