President David Granger on Sunday called on all Guyanese to disassociate themselves from denialism as he noted that inconvenient truths particularly about the country’s challenges must not be concealed but, rather, every person must contribute to crafting and implementing plans to improve education, employment and empowerment.
President Granger was at the time delivering the feature address at the Cuffy 250 State of African-Guyanese Forum, which was held at the Critchlow Labour College Auditorium.
“We should not allow people to deny that there are problems because that would obstruct us from implementing solutions. I believe Cuffy 250 is one of the solutions. Where there are problems, we must be courageous enough to admit there are problems and look for solutions and sometimes it calls for research. We must all do much more to quicken the pace at which social problems are solved, local democracy firmly re-established, community development improved and the people could enjoy a good life,” he said.
In his address to the Forum, Granger said that Guyanese, in pursuit of a ‘good life’, ought to avoid the dangers of ‘denialism’. Noting that denialism distorts the reality of present-day conditions, constructs a false reality and leads, inevitably, to failure, the Head of State said that Guyanese deceive themselves and others when social reality is denied and this can lead to consequences.
“A prominent leader of one country, notoriously, denied the link between Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and because of that denial 330,000 people died because his Government refused to provide treatment to HIV-infected persons. Even today people deny the impacts of global warming. Other prominent persons have described global warming as an ‘expensive hoax.’ Cigarette manufacturers have long denied the link between smoking and cancer. Denialism, in every phase of life, could have dangerous consequences but there is another side to denialism,” the President shared.
The Head of State noted that one of the main problems particularly, which affect Guyanese currently, are the rate of school ‘dropouts’, which see at least seven students leaving school per day, with the highest incidence being in public secondary schools where at least five students drop out every day. The rate of unemployment, which is estimated at 12 per cent of the labour force or about 37,119 persons is another problem plaguing the Guyanese community. Thirdly, he pointed to the alarming rate of teenage pregnancy, which is the highest in the Caribbean Community; more than 3,000 Guyanese teenage girls become pregnant every year.
He said that denying the prevalence and pervasiveness of these problems will not solve them. Instead, he issued a call for a concerted effort to successfully address them. “These are big problems and we cannot deny that they exist. We cannot take our hands away from working towards a solution. We are seeking solutions and we need organisations like yours, non-governmental organisations and civil society, churches, religious organisations, Mandirs and Mosques to work together to solve these problems for all Guyanese particularly young Guyanese,” he said.