Our decline predated the minibus culture

Stabroek News
June 28, 2001

Dear Editor,

I refer to a letter [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] captioned "The minibus culture contributes to educational decline" (l0.6.200l) by Aubrey Alexander.

While it made interesting reading, I tend to disagree with its author since our educational standard was declining long before the mass introduction of the minibuses as an alternative to the Government Transportation Service which was failing to fulfil its mandate.

The importance once attached to education declined with the introduction of "the parallel economy" and "the get rich quick" syndrome which have pervaded our society for approximately twenty years. It was that phase in our history which saw the abandonment of all professional ethics and moral considerations.

Professionals began jostling at all ports of entry and exit to either import scarce commodities and export whatever in their opinion would have brought in scarce United States dollars.

Within recent times the Mini Bus culture has exacerbated the situation by aptly epitomising what obtains in a society where ignorance and illiteracy abound.

While we may be annoyed (and rightly so) with the drivers and conductors for the manner of their operations and conduct, we must spare one thought that these individuals are the products of our moribund society and collapsed educational system.

Our system has produced policemen who are not cerebral, politicians who are not too intelligent, businessmen who are dishonest, teachers who do not possess a store of knowledge and many more cases of functional illiterates, which can be cited.

At present it seems as though divine intervention is the only hope for this country simply because our policy makers seem to lack the level of intellectualism or vision to craft the sort of programmes that will restore the aspirations of the ordinary Guyanese individual.

It must not be misconstrued that this letter is an attempt to condone the lawlessness practiced by the minibus operators.

However, we must be reminded of two factors, the inextricable link between poverty and poor education and the perception of the minibus operations as a source of wealth. As such there is no doubt that our students who are the products of the "get rich quick" phase of history, are naturally attracted to these bus operators because the majority of them are from under financed homes.

Finally, the only way to correct this situation is for the government of the day to implement effective poverty alleviation programmes on a massive scale. This programme must ensure that all professionals are adequately remunerated along with other benefits such as tax relief based on family size/dependent relatives, mortgage payments among other things.

Yours faithfully
T. F. Trotman