Even though this was a last minute invite from the Hon. Consul-General's office, the event was very well attended and very well represented by numerous Charitable and Not For Profit organisations in Canada, each working to support various causes in Guyana.
The Minister informed us that she hails from New Amsterdam, attended Berbice High School, was a member of the Guyana Defence Force, worked in the public sector in Health, Strategic Planning and Development and has a passion for education and development. In addition to being Minister within the Ministry of Education, Minister Henry also has responsibilities within the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.
Everyone present then introduced themselves giving a brief (sometimes lengthy) overview of their organizations and the work being done for Guyana.
Representatives from the newly formed New Amsterdam Technical Institute Alumni Association, Tutorial High School, Georgetown Technical Institute, Tain Secondary School, Bishop's High School, Queens College Secondary School, St. Joseph's High School, St. Roses High School, St. Stanislaus College, Guyana Christian Charities, Ex Police Association, Ex Guyana Defence Force, and several other organisations were present.
It was interesting to learn of the many organisations here that are raising funds for Guyana. These include help for Education, Sports, Seniors, Children, Arts and Culture, Reading programmes, Hot meals programmes and several other benevolent activities. However, several persons alluded to the need for collaboration and cohesion amongst the various groups rather than several independent bodies with duplicative interests but working independently. The general consensus was that working together, as opposed to working separately for the same cause, would produce better results for Guyana. Several persons expressed interest in joining forces for the common good of helping Guyana. Contact information for the various organisations is with the Consulate General's office.
A common theme was IT, which resonates with SSCAAT because of our own challenges with the internet, power surges, lack of training, security, maintenance, and sustainability. Several organisations raised these issues and asked that the Minister address these issues upon her return to Guyana. It was agreed by all present, including the Minister, that the way forward lies in the electronic and digital age.
Another common theme was communication - or lack thereof. Several representatives alluded to the lack of acknowledgement of receipt of donations, lack of response to letters and e-mails, and expressed disdain at the lack of support from the Ministry as well as from several Boards of Governors.
Succession Planning, Guidance Counselling, Technical Training, Curriculum Revamping, Equal Opportunity Learning (where every student has equal opportunity to the same standard of learning), Collaboration, Teachers' Salaries, Maintenance of the Physical Structures of the Schools, and other issues were raised.
Paul Archer, the SSCAAT President, spoke about the Pueblo Science Project, the upgrade of the laboratories and the library, the computer lab, numerous shipments to the College etc.
The Minister addressed the audience thanking everyone for their contribution to the various organizations in Guyana and promised to address the issues raised. The Minister provided her personal email address and asked that she be contacted if needed.