PYO charged to develop new skills

Stabroek News
July 30, 2000

President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday challenged the several hundred young people from the ten administrative regions who gathered for the 16th Triennial Congress of the Progressive Youth Organisation to be educated and informed.

The President, in delivering the opening address at the Hope West Primary School, Enmore, East Coast Demerara told young people to develop relevant skills as members of the PYO, the youth arm of the PPP.

He said when the organisation was formed 48 years ago, there were certain skills that were developed. In those years, members of the PYO had revolutionary skills as they had been involved in the fight for independence. Then they developed skills to fight for democracy, Jagdeo said.

The President reminded the audience that their party was in power and that they were now required to develop new skills. He said PYO members must now know the vision and the programmes of the PPP. They should reflect this vision and be knowledgeable so as to defend it. Young members of the party must have a sense of their history to correctly analyse what they saw in comparison to today. According to the President, youths must adopt leadership roles and understand the context in which they lived.

PYO members were admonished to look at what was happening in the international arena. President Jagdeo stated that whatever happened in the international arena, despite how far removed it might seem would inevitably affect Guyana and that youths must be aware.

He noted that the disparity between rich and poor was growing, with five men in the world having more money than 50 poor countries.

President Jagdeo said his government was doing all it could to ensure youths participated in leadership roles in the country's development.

He listed strides in education, housing, health-care and potable water among steps taken to ensure young people could make a meaningful contribution. He said gone were the days when children had to haul carts with buckets of water from afar.

The education system was vastly improved now, he said, and announced that within three years, every child in Guyana would have access to secondary education. According to the President, prior to 1992, 35% of the country's children had access to secondary schools, which had been increased to 58% since.

The Guyanese leader said that contrary to what some had been saying, the PPP did not only cater to the needs of Indo-Guyanese, but that it was the only national party that could go anywhere in Guyana and speak to the people. He said the party's diverse membership was evident at the polls in 1997 when it won support in areas where it traditionally did not. "This coming election, we will gain even more support," said Jagdeo.

He encouraged youths to balance personal ambition with the desire to work for the development of the country. President Jagdeo pledged that the government would remain steadfast in defence of the country's democracy and would continue to implement policies that would benefit all Guyana.

Former president Janet Jagan and PYO's Zulfikar Mustapha in a brief history of the organisation, remembered the days when it was illegal and had to change its name to avoid being banned.

Mustapha recalled that when the PYO became legal in 1957, almost all of its central committee members were in prison. He said the organisation survived and has produced the current president, and several ministers in the government.

Mrs Jagan noted the strength of the PYO which, she said, had stood the test of time and had become stronger as the years went by. According to Mrs Jagan, the PYO was the brainchild of her husband, the late president Cheddi Jagan. She said he recognised that the role of youths was important and noted that in 1952 there was no organised group which spoke on behalf of all Guyanese.

She said the PYO was the first group in those years, to pledge itself the task of working towards winning a free and independent Guyana. According to Mrs Jagan, the PYO persevered although many said it would not.

The election of central committee members and resolution and amendments to the constitution and deliberation on a number of issues would take place during the two-day congress.

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