The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration has treated this large section of the population with disdain. The Government has ignored young people’s legitimate aspirations for a coherent national youth policy that would give them hope for the future. The PPP/C cynically dawdled as the world celebrated the International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding – IYY – during August 2010 – August 2011.
Young people, inevitably, are the nation’s future but they face monumental challenges. The large number of school dropouts, the unavailability of new job opportunities, the huge prison population (of which young people are said to comprise 75 per cent), the spate of suicides among adolescents and the rising number of teenage pregnancies are all signs of a desperate social predicament. The PPP/C has failed young people in two major areas:
Education: Public schools are producing an increasing number of illiterate and innumerate young people. Failure rates at the annual National Grade Six Assessment examinations are astronomically high. The Ministry of Education reports that about 6,000 children drop out of our primary and secondary schools annually. The chronic crises and the current controversy at the University of Guyana are examples of the administration’s lack of concern for students and their education.
Employment: Unemployment is the central issue affecting young school-leavers. The PPPC administration’s disregard for measures to deal with the massive jobs crisis is already having dangerous consequences. Children who do not complete their elementary education satisfactorily will find it difficult to get jobs as adults. The majority of young university graduates, unable to find employment, remain under- or un-employed, or join the throng of thousands who emigrate every year. Young people suffer most, owing to the fact that school-leavers are inexperienced and have a long wait before they find their first job.
Happy people do not kill themselves. Official data indicate that suicide became a serious public health issue in Guyana only within the last decade. Suicide is ranked seventh of the ten major causes of death. The suicide rate is approximately 20-25 per 100,000 persons in the population and it has been consistent for years. Data indicate that suicide became the leading cause of death among young people 15-24 of age and the third leading cause of death among persons 25-44 of age.
The PPP/C has sowed the seeds of disdain for young people’s concerns and will reap a bitter harvest at the next elections.
Young people know that the PPP/C brazenly, annually and cynically has been announcing that a new National Youth Policy would be promulgated but consistently it has failed to do so. The result has been that most young people continue to face a disheartening, jobless future.
Young people will not vote for the PPP because that party in Government has failed them. They will vote for APNU – the inclusive partnership because that partnership will improve the standard of education, ensure their personal safety and introduce a genuine national youth policy that will guarantee “a good life for all”.