Yes to more physical activity; No to Coca Cola and sweet drinks for children


The Ministry of Education, in partnership with Banks DIH Limited, recently launched a national skipping rope contest intended to increase levels of physical activity among schoolchildren in Guyana. According to the Banks DIH Marketing representative who spoke at the program’s launch, the company is committed to the health and well-being of their customers. He called on young people particularly, to be more physically active.

It is true that children (and people of all ages, actually) have become less physically active over the years. Lifestyles are more sedentary now, with people walking less and spending many hours now in front of a television or computer screen. This inactivity, coupled with unhealthy diets, has created an international public health crisis.

According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality, causing an estimated 3.2 million deaths globally. Physical inactivity, coupled with an unhealthy diet, leads to persons becoming overweight and obese, which are risk factors for very serious illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthrithis, as well as some cancers. These negative effects are not limited to adults; children are also becoming more unhealthy and being stricken with serious illnesses at younger ages.

According to a report from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), almost a quarter of the Guyanese population aged 20 and older are obese, with an additional 29.0% being overweight. Overall, that means that over half the Guyanese population is overweight. Both the current and former Ministers of Health have identified this as a very serious problem.

It is important, therefore, to encourage children and people of all ages to be more physically active (any amount of physical activity, if one is not active, can positively impact one’s health). Also, since many adult habits are formed during childhood, it is essential that children be encouraged to adopt healthier habits (at least 30 minutes of moderate activity- biking, dancing, jogging, brisk walking etc, 5 days/week). So, on the surface, this national skipping initiative might seem like a commendable idea. However, a more critical analysis reveals a major and very problematic fact- Coca Cola is this initiative’s main sponsor! In fact, at the program’s launch, bottles of Coca Cola were prominently displayed, spelling out the word ‘SKIP’.

The fact that such a partnership could be entered into in the first place shows a serious and fundamental lack of understanding of key public health facts related to obesity and child health by the Guyana Ministry of Education. Multiple scientifically valid studies have proven that sugary drinks, like Coca Cola, are major contributors to childhood obesity worldwide. A typical 20-ounce soda contains 15-18 teaspoons of sugar and more than 240 calories. People who drink this “liquid candy” do not feel as full as if they had eaten the same calories from solid food and do not eat any less.

Research clearly and unquestionably shows that consumption of sugary drinks causes weight gain, regardless of if people engage in other unhealthy behavior such as overeating and getting too little exercise. This link is even more clear in children. Another issue to be concerned about is the impact of all that sugar on children’s teeth, especially in a place like Guyana where dental care is not the most affordable or accessible.

Worldwide, public health experts recommend that soda and other ‘sweet drinks’ be avoided and eliminated from one’s diet, if one wants to lose weight and achieve better health. In no instance would Coca-Cola ever be part of any child health initiative. In fact, schools all over the world are fighting to get Coca Cola and other sodas out of their cafeterias, but here in Guyana, the Ministry of Education is welcoming them with open arms. This is mindboggling! It makes absolutely no sense to encourage children to be more physically active on one hand, but to simultaneously market soda to them; any positive benefit from the physical activity would be erased by the consumption of this caffeinated sweet drink.

It is commendable that businesses wish to contribute positively to societal well-being. They are, after all, key members of society and should indeed play a role in ensuring that the society in which they operate and their customers live is as healthy as possible. However, let us not be fooled- the aim of companies like Cola Cola is to sell their product and make a profit; they are not a healthcare business.

Coca Cola is aware of the negative health impacts of their product and has embarked on a mission to ‘whitewash’ their image and maintain their profits. Children are the chief customers of soft drink companies like Coca- Cola; most of the marketing is targeted towards them. The drink panders to their ‘sweet tooth’ and creates a lifelong preference (some even say addiction), often thoughtlessly getting passed down to the next generation (I have seen mothers feeding their babies soda in the baby bottle). This is not a corporation that cares about child health and we must not be seduced by their willingness to buy their way into our schools and good graces.

Corporate social responsibility can be a force for good, yes. However, more often than not, it is simply a way for companies to reap social capital as ‘do gooders’ and to increase their profits and consumer base. If Banks DIH really wanted to be a more socially responsible corporation, they would establish a fund for the families of people killed and injured by those found driving under the influence of their alcoholic beverages. They would do more to ensure that children do not purchase/consume their alcoholic products, and that adults do not consume them irresponsibly. They would encourage children to drink water, instead of Coca Cola. These are some of the elements of real corporate social responsibility. Promoting Coca Cola to schoolchildren after skipping is completely ridiculous. Are we not smart enough to see through these corporate ruses? Or do we just not really care about the children and their health?


security companies in guyana are super exploiters of women

minimum wage- another law looking good on the books of guyana. implementation is another sad story…

mark jacobs lives!

the watchman industry in guyana is booming but the name is a misnomer. it’s time we start calling it the watch woman industry
24/7 battalions of women across guyana shuffle off to go watch/protect other people’s wealth and they are super exploited on many levels
the PPP campaign commercials on the tele are all titled guyana blooms!
as we bloom into higher levels of inequality & lawessness, you need batallions of watch women to protect those caskets of ill gotten lucre from the never will haves. but the thing is, these watch women are noting more than bodies in the way. many are old, most are mothers, plenty are unfit and physically unfit to be in the security services. if they’re lucky, sometimes they give them a stick and a torch light. if they’re double lucky they’ll have a hut just behind the gate and bunker down for whatever come…

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youth gyaff meditation

I got invited to this gyaff by the Guyana National Youth Council the other day. I didn’t go to their launch last year because well, I’m not a youth anymore and I don’t have the patience for many things anymore, especially gyaff sessions; I prefer to put my remaining energy and resources into action. Also I remember being a young person and feeling vexed at all the big people telling me what to do, how to think etc. I don’t want to become one of those disgusting people in my old age. I prefer to let people sort themselves out and then show me what they’re about- the adage about action speaking louder than words rings truer to me than any empty promise. But then I was reminded that I didn’t magically reach where I am today, that I learned from a lot of others, and that maybe I had a duty to share back some of the things that I’ve picked up along the way. Sure sure, I try to do that, but the real reason I decided to go to this event was because I was curious. I wanted to hear what was going on in the heads and hearts of these Guyanese youth. I’m around young people on a regular basis in Guyana (they are, after all, the majority in this country), but it’s a big, diverse group and I wanted to hear from this set. So I went, even though I’m mostly fed up of gyaffing, especially when it’s indoors at fancy smancy places like the Georgetown Club. I prefer to do my gyaffing outside, on the street corner, with random passersby, not in a building with a guard at the gate, air conditioning freezing your skin, and a self-selecting group of people. But anyway, there I was.

I didn’t see the 72 people who had RSVP’d on facebook, but it was a good turnout anyway, for an event that most folks only had a few days notice about. A good sign, I thought, that people were eager and willing to engage, to spend the time. But I also wondered how many just came because the white Amerikkkan professor man was the headliner. He was cool, nice eye candy, said a lot of revolutionary things etc, but I couldn’t help feeling sad/vexed that we’re still on this path. Runoko Rashidi- a renown African-American historian, anthropologist, writer, and activist was in Guyana last year, for several weeks, also holding free public events and I didn’t see any of these young people at any of those events (except for maybe Norwell). I don’t know if that’s because of a lack of interest or if it just means that more savvy marketing is needed.. Whichever it is, it’s clear evidence of something amiss, imo.

How many of these young people in the room, I wondered, talking bout revolution, speak out and take action when they witness violence- man beating woman, woman beating child, child beating child or animal, or any variation thereof? How many speak out and take action when they hear slurs against gay people, against the mentally ill, the physically disabled, or other marginalized groups in society? How many of them speak out and take action when they witness corruption and abuse of power? How many of them challenge the authorities and power that be and put themselves on the line to stop these wrongdoings? Again, I’ve never seen most of them at any picket or protest action that I’ve been involved with, and that’s been quite a few..

One of the first pickets that I was involved in, after re-migrating to Guyana in 2009, was at the Leonora Police Station, after they burnt the genitals of a 15yr old boy. It was a rainy day and there were only about half a dozen of us women from Red Thread out there on the street. We and our placards got wet up and most people just passed us straight- whether from fear or ignorance, I didn’t know. I remember being appalled that more people weren’t out on the streets picketing at the torture of this teenager, wondering what kind of country and people I had come back to, who could remain silent in the face of such abuse (something that I still wonder to this day). Of course, that was 5 yrs ago and some of these young people would still have been in high school etc. But there have been numerous other police abuses since then- the killing of the peaceful protesters in Linden, two of who were youth, the murder of 17yr old Shaquille Grant, the sodomizing of Colywn Harding and the shooting of Alex Griffith- both young men, the burning of the other young man in Plaisance, the indiscriminate murder of numerous ‘so called’ bandits- mostly all young men. When it’s open season on young men in Guyana, how come I’ve never seen most of the young people in that room at the Georgetown Club at any picket against police brutality?

I am reminded then, of the young woman who, her first time at a picket, told me she thought picketing was dotish, a waste of time. I know this is a common sentiment. But I wonder how much difference all the pontificating I see in virtual spheres, like Facebook, for example, has on things in the real world. It seems to me like many of the same people who say holding a picket sign on a street corner for an hour is a waste of time spend way more time than that ‘discoursing’ on FB, with much less impact. Yes, it gets frustrating to picket about the same issues over and over, to people who seem blind and deaf, who ignore, ridicule, or abuse you, to stand in the hot sun, or the pouring rain, but standing up publicly to the powers that be is critical and must be done. It sends a strong message to the powers that be that not all are cowed, that some eyes are still open, some brains still functioning, and some voices still free and fearless. Against fascism, tyranny and dictatorship, simple things like these become powerful weapons. There are numerous other strategies to employ, yes, but public protest and ‘real life’ dialogue- not just virtual, armchair discussions- cannot be underestimated. Also, nothing has ever been gained without some effort being put forth; sacrifices will have to be made. Spending an hour during your lunch break in the sun, possibly enduring taunts or jibes by passersby is actually one of the lesser actions and sacrifices that can be made; if this relatively minor action cannot be taken, then how can we ever hope to achieve greater things?

I know many are wary of public action because it might affect their jobs, or because their family members might disapprove, etc. I know many youth are just focused on themselves, on improving their personal circumstances, or that of their narrow sphere of family and friends. I remember the UG chemistry students who I chatted with in November, at the Groundings right after Parliament was prorogued. They were all planning on beating out as soon as they got their degrees, with zero qualms. I think of all the young people I know personally, who’ve left Guyana in the short time I’ve been back, and the numerous others who are just biding their time until. I used to rage and get vex with them, but I quickly learned that accomplished nothing, they were going to leave anyway. So now, I just encourage them to come back sometime and contribute somehow, even if they no longer live here permanently. It still tears me up to see them line up outside the Passport Office and embassies though. And I can’t really celebrate their achievements ‘outside’ wholeheartedly. After all, when the best and the brightest continue to leave these shores, it just increases the shit that those of us still here have to deal with. I wonder about these young people’s definition of success, about their understanding and value of freedom..

How many are contributing to their communities? How many give back, freely and voluntarily, to others outside of their circles, to those who look differently from them, who worship differently, etc? And I don’t mean photo ops with beauty queens handing out food to the homeless or picking up trash, or other just charity events, though that can be temporarily helpful too- I mean sharing of skills, knowledge, quality time- things both tangible and intangible that can transform lives. How many regularly interact meaningfully with people younger and older than them, just to mention one difference? How many realize, as audre said, that revolution is not a one-time event, that there are numerous revolutionary opportunities to seize each and every day, from large to small.

How many think critically about where they’re spending their money, who they’re supporting economically, when they want to relax and sport, or just every day when they’re buying their daily necessities? There are a lot of cocaine-related ‘businesspeople’ around, with a lot of business that are just fronts for money laundering and other skullduggery- how many take the time to ask questions and find out before they hand over their money, before they go to Jamzone, the Wine Bar, Palm Court, Buddy’s, etc? Why were plastic bottles of Coca cola and Sprite part of the refreshments at this youth gyaff? Why were local juices not being offered? What initiatives are there to support young entrepreneurs, trying to jump start their businesses in Guyana. Are people thinking about this, or just about who to vote for in the next election?

One young man talked about moral education that he did with younger children and another about environmental cleanup. An older man talked about baseball and a youth-run government. I left soon thereafter. It’s not too safe to walk in my neighborhood after dark, so I had to be heading home. As I passed city hall, I passed a gang of men with wooden planks beating on a minibus. Someone cowered inside. I went to the Stabroek police outpost to see if they could send some police. Of course, they’re never around when you need then. Inside the outpost, was a young policeman, and a 13yr old boy shacked to the rail on the side. You see is me alone hay, the cop said dolefully.

don’t beat your children

so, doing what i shouldn’t (as usual) and walking alone on the seawall after dark. the tide had been high and the waves crashing, leaving the stone wet. at the sherrif st traffic light, i passed a young amerindian girl sitting by the steps. it was dark. i walked a few steps past, then stopped and turned back. something didn’t seem right. turns out she had run away from home after she got suspended from school (for fighting with another girl), and her mother had beat her with a belna and threatened to send her to girls’ school (the NOC). lord. a mess. called a bunch of people, finally mother. crying. mother and i talked. they were coming, she said. i said i’d stay with her until they arrived, and i did. we talked. boy. o boy. parents, don’t beat your children. they should not be more scared of you than strangers. ‪#‎guyana2015‬

Indices of Development vs Garbage Politricks

The Government Information Agency (GINA) recently released a statement saying that garbage was a sign of development, accompanied by a picture of a grinning Minister of Local Government Norman Whittaker next to a large trash pile. Over the years, we have heard similar statements about what constitutes progress, with the number of vehicles on the roadways and new buildings being touted as key indicators.

"But how many persons do realise that increased garbage is a definite result of this increased socio-economic development?"
“But how many persons do realise that increased garbage is a definite result of this increased socio-economic development?”

Some Guyanese believe this crap; however, garbage piles, vehicles, and buildings are not signs of development. The fact is that heaps of garbage in the streets is a clear indicator of broken systems of governance and accountability, a health hazard, a deterrent to tourists, and an embarrassment to the national image. Garbage is nothing to be proud of and those who try to justify this are playing dirty politricks.

Waste is an inevitable byproduct of everyday life. There is an excess of packaging, no recycling programme, indiscriminate littering and dumping, and generally poor waste management in Guyana. Compounding these problems are clogged waterways, leading to the flooding which has become a regular feature of Guyanese life. We are all familiar with the consequences of flooding – damaged household items, destroyed gardens, crops, and businesses, and the affliction of skin rashes, infections, and water-borne illnesses such as dysentery and typhoid. Garbage also attracts vermin like flies, cockroaches, and rats which spread numerous diseases.

Studies done on the impact of the environment on mental health show a link between a clean environment and mental well-being. Being surrounded by filth and garbage contributes to stress, depression and low esteem, a sense of unworthiness, and creates a populace who feel no sense of civic pride or duty.

This is exactly what we see in Guyana today – people who don’t think twice about littering and dumping the garbage from their homes and businesses in the streets, who don’t care if their neighbours are inconvenienced or flooded by concreted up drains, who lack a sense of community and take no pride in their surroundings, who would rather be anywhere else than the nation of their birth, and who are killing themselves at a spectacular rate. Progress this is definitely not.

In 1990, two economists – a Pakistani, Mahbub ul Haq, and Amartya Sen – a Nobel prize winner from India, developed the Human Development Index (HDI) to measure development in real ‘people’ terms, instead of just looking at financial statistics. The HDI assesses health, education, and income levels of each country in the world. In 2010, a measure for assessing inequality was added to the HDI, creating the Inequality-adjusted HDI. The HDI and IHDI have since been adopted by the United Nations Development Programme. Simply put, the (I)HDI measures the life expectancy, years of schooling expected and obtained, and standard of living of people in each nation of the world.

Guyana consistently ranks in the bottom tier of the HDI. In 2014, Guyana was rated 121 out of the 187 countries surveyed – the second worse in the Caribbean, better only than Haiti, and just marginally better than its 2013 ranking. This came as no surprise to most Guyanese who are intimately familiar with the struggles of daily life, and who have seen Guyana stuck in the bottommost level of the HDI year after year. However, those invested in upholding the status quo still try to put a positive spin on this dismal ranking, as they attempted with the garbage situation. One common tactic is to cast the net back to 1992 and talk about the advances since then. This is disingenuous however, for there have been significant changes in the data collection/measurements over the years and it is more accurate to compare more recent years to each other, rather than decades past. Reaching back to the 1980’s also attempts to deflect from the reality that the services provided over the last two decades by the single ruling party have been sub-par at best. Instead of taking responsibility and attempting to make real improvements, politricks and the blame game gets played while we the Guyanese citizens continue to suffer.

We are fed statistics of numbers of new schools constructed, but the fact is that a school building does not mean a well-educated child. I regularly interact with children in the public school system and most of them are significantly below where they should be on basic literacy indicators, barely able to read and write properly. The Ministry’s own data show a dismal 32% grade literacy rate, a high dropout rate among boys at the secondary level (less than 30% graduate), and several high level MOE staffers have spoken out recently about the need to check the obvious downward spiral of the education sector.

Maternal mortality is another key indicator of the strength of a country’s healthcare system and something that Guyana has consistently been unable to reduce. According to the latest report from the World Health Organization, we have the second worst rate in the Caribbean, again only better than Haiti. Among the recent fatalities is a young mother who gave birth on Christmas Day and died before the New Year. Numerous reports of medical malpractice continue to flow from patients using the public healthcare facilities, especially the Georgetown Public Hospital, with errant staff rarely being punished or held accountable.

Unemployment remains staggeringly high as does the brain drain (emigration) of skilled personnel who see no future for themselves in Guyana. The gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to widen, with those in power, their friends, and family members grabbing the majority of the national resources.

These are some of the real indicators of development and clearly Guyana is in a mess indeed. Do not be fooled. We must demand better. We need improved health, education, employment and opportunities for advancement. We need justice and accountability for all, and freedom from fear and persecution when speaking critically of the governing entities. That is what real progress and a healthy society looks like; anything else is just plain rubbish.

woman hold your head and cry 2

How do people get to be so bestial? The puppy has been whimpering for hours. There are people all around but they don’t seem to hear it. They’re just going about their daily business- bathing the children and getting them ready for school. All the time, for hours, the puppy whimpers. In the same yard, a few nights ago- a girl child cried- “I want my mother. My back and belly hurting. You hit me in my back. I need my inhaler.” “I don’t care,” the adult woman beating her retorted. “You can dead right there.” The other younger children watched and giggled. I was in my apartment, but it’s not soundproof and the yards are pressed right next to each other, there’re no blissful acres of open space here, so the cries filled my ears. The whack of the hanger or belt or slipper or ruler as it landed on her skin was loud and clear.

I never thought of myself as extraordinarily sensitive or anything like that- until I returned to Guyana to live. Here, now, I feel like some kind of freak. Things like a puppy whimpering for hours and a child getting beat, which most other Guyanese people seem to shrug off- which they don’t even seem to hear in the first place- get me crying and raging. I don’t have children or dogs, so maybe there are things about minding them that I just don’t understand (bullshit), but I know a few things about violence and conditioning and it’s pellucidly clear to me, from observing Guyanese society for the last several years, that brutishness is our number one, national crop these days.

“Hello. You have to do something about that puppy.” There is a woman washing wares at the window and I’m speaking to her. She ignores me just like she ignores the puppy. A little boy in school uniform comes with a dish of water for it. “Where is the puppy’s mother?” I ask him. “In front,” he replies. “Well, you have to put the puppy back with her, or bring her here. Don’t you hear the puppy crying?” He looks at me blankly. “It’s been crying for hours,” I continue. “That’s cruel. Puppies need their mothers, just like children need their mothers.” Still the blank stare. The woman is still by the window, still washing her wares, and still ignoring me. “It’s going to die,” I try as a last resort. “Do you want it to die? Why don’t you put it back with its mother where it was good good before?” The child continues to look at me like I’m speaking Martian. I return to my apartment, defeated, and stick the headphones into my ears, turning the volume way up.

Empathy, compassion, understanding- are all things that can be learned, can be taught. Why are we not cultivating these qualities in our children and our society today? Why do more people not speak up and challenge the numerous examples of brutality that they witness in society daily? Why have we allowed fear to silence us? Why are we allowing violence to become the ‘norm’? “Is not my child.” “Is man-woman story.” “Is just a dawg.” “Mind your own business.” “Let the authorities deal with it.” “You want to get licks too?” Are you all happy/proud to live in this kind of society? Is it working for you? How come you’re not sickened to your stomach? Is survival, in the midst of shit, really all that we can hope/strive for? I hear a lot of people talking a lot about politricks. But I hear fewer conversations about empathy and compassion. The two are connected, you know.

I called the child welfare hotline the night I heard the child getting beat. I couldn’t go into the yard because the dogs were loose. The woman who answered asked me if it sounded like a bad beating. If it was really bad, she’d call the police, she said, though she couldn’t guarantee that they’d come. But if it wasn’t too bad, the best that she could promise was that they’d look into it sometime in the next 72 hours. The foolice. Those bastions of compassion. It’s been more than 72 hrs. I called the hotline back to find out if any action was taken. They had no record of my call. Woman, hold your head and cry.

Natural Hair Banned in Barbados School

2015. this shit still. i can’t..

Feminist Conversations on Caribbean Life

Borrowed images
willed our skins pale
muffled our laughter
lowered our voices
let out our hems
dekinked our hair
denied our sex in gym tunics and bloomers
harnessed our voices to madrigals
and genteel airs
yoked our minds to declensions in Latin
and the language of Shakespeare

Told us nothing about our selves
There was nothing at all

From Colonial Girls’ School by Olive Senior

It has been reported that the Principal of one of Barbados’ elite secondary schools has banned black girls with hard hair/nappy hair/natural hair from wearing their hair loose i.e. from wearing their hair in the way that it grows out of their heads.  She has declined to speak to the media so we have no idea what her reason for this ban is.  Some supporters of the ban have claimed that the “twist out” hairstyle is womanish, distracting, inappropriate for school and that it…

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Nature videos as sedative

“how do academics spend and justify their time to themselves and their peers?”


Pete Brook recently posted a report about a prison experiment in Oregon where inmates in solitary confinement are exposed to images from National Geographic in a space called “The Blue Room.” The experiment seeks to “calm the IMU’s prisoners and make its tiers safer for corrections officers,” according to another report in The Oregonian.

Brook writes:

Let’s just pause and consider what is happening here. Let’s consider the carceral logic and policies from which the Blue Room has emerged.

The state has decided to isolate prisoners in bare cells, with only artificial light, in a state of near total sensory deprivation, for 23 in every 24 hours. Let’s not speculate why prisoners are isolated; I’m less interested in what behaviours land a prisoner in the harshest custody conditions, and more interested in if and how those custody conditions improve or exacerbate existing problems and/or create new problems.

(The Blue Room…

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On Shame, Respect, and Big Daddy Politricks

je suis john adams2

I am not Amerindian and I’m not from Aishalton, but I am Guyanese and I’m ashamed. I am ashamed of the misleaders of Guyana who use bullyism and violence every day to silence and suppress Guyanese citizens from freely exercising their rights. I’m ashamed of the deliberate and continuous distortion of facts and the insults to the intelligence and integrity of the Guyanese body public by people drunk with power and determined to maintain control no matter how many lies they have to tell and how many laws they break. I’m ashamed by a President and politicians who seem unable to dialogue intelligently and respectfully with their critics, resorting instead to ‘cuss and buse outs.’ I am ashamed of the lack of sanctions and accountability for those who break the laws of the land- from Presidential Guards who assault teachers asking questions and an Attorney General who spews violent threats, disrespects women, and misuses public funds, to Ministers and other government officials who drive drunk and cause car crashes, abuse their subordinates, do little to actually meet the needs of the people, provide quality services or improve living conditions, and generally ignore the laws of decent society. Yes, there is a lot to be ashamed of in Guyana today but none of it has to do with teacher Adams.

The Aishalton Village Council has upbraided Mr. Adams for not adequately respecting the President- the ‘daddy of the country’, in their words. They have called for his dismissal from his position as Mathematics teacher at the Aishalton Secondary School and his removal from the community. I would like to take this opportunity to say a few things about respect and leadership. First of all, respect is something that must be earned through deeds that are fair and just. It is not to be given blindly just because someone happens to hold some title or seem to be at some higher level- the fact is that ALL people are born with the same rights and deserve equal respect. Those holding positions of power are public servants, put in those positions temporarily to serve the citizens of the nation. They are not gods or godfathers, just ordinary men and women with a job to do, simple as that. Secondly, we the citizens of Guyana are not children to be led like sheep and told what and how to think. We are rational, intelligent adults with brains of our own and the ability to make our own judgments and decisions. It is clear however, as we approach elections in Guyana, in this ‘silly season’, that politics is once again trumping common sense.

Children in the hinterland regions of Guyana, unfortunately, continue to suffer from a lack of quality teachers. They are not afforded the same opportunities as children on the Coast, and they routinely under-perform on national and regional tests. This is not a reflection of the abilities of the children, but a failure on the part of the government which is supposed to be providing them with qualified and competent teachers. Mathematics is a core, foundational subject, and for the Aishalton Village Council to call for the removal of Mr. Adams- a trained maths teacher with many years of experience- from his position, is appalling. It shows a complete disregard for the welfare and education of the children of Aishalton and it is shameful that the supposed ‘leaders’ of that community care so little about the future of their children that they are willing to sacrifice them to the altar of ‘Big Daddy’ politricks.

Mothers and fathers are to be respected yes, but not if they’re abusing or harming their children, family, or community. Then, they are to be held accountable. It is clear to anyone who looks at Guyana today, that bullyism, violence, and dishonesty have become the norm. These are the lessons that the youth are absorbing and we can see the results clearly- too many who lack love for self and others, who believe in might over right, who are unable to think critically and outside the ‘box’, who are loath to challenge the status quo, who live in fear, and who willingly and passively participate in their own destruction. Again- this is not the fault of the youth; children are not born liars, bullies, and abusers- these are all behaviors that they learn over time, that they are taught by the adults and the environment in which they grow up. For this, we should all be ashamed.

Children need adults who care about their well-being, not just about power and control. Children need mathematics teachers. Children need opportunities for advancement and positive development. Children need a government that truly cares about them and that doesn’t just pay lip service and play with their future. Children need to know that they can freely ask questions about issues in their communities, from those who are supposed to be serving them, without fear of being slapped or beaten. Children need to learn that government officials are being paid by public funds and that they must therefore be held accountable by the people. Children need to understand that power comes with responsibility, that freedom of speech is an inalienable right of all people, and that threats, lies, and violence are not conducive or to be tolerated in a just and healthy society. These are the lessons that we need to teach the youth of Guyana today. Then again, we will be able to take pride in ourselves. Until then, yes, we have a lot to be ashamed of.