Santa Mission Library links community development to tourism
Guyana Chronicle
February 2, 2002

SANTA Mission Community Library, established at a cost of $5,104,095, was commissioned at the Amerindian village in Region Three (West Demerara/ Essequibo Islands) on Friday, January 25, 2002.

The brainchild of Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) President, Captain Gerry Gouveia, the project was realised through cooperation and partnership amongst Roraima Airways/Arrowpoint Resort, the Santa/Aratack community, Canada Fund, the National Library and University of Guyana (UG) Tourism Studies Unit.

The resident beneficiaries contributed $792,500 in counterpart funding and Village Captain Clive Patterson said the commissioning was a grand occasion for him and other villagers.

He said the facility has a great role to play in the human development of the population and children in particular should take full advantage of it and ensure its proper care.

Mr. Patterson said the Village Council has appointed a management committee, including himself, as part of the mechanism in place to effectively run the institution.

Also in that group is Santa Mission Primary School Headmaster, Mr. Gordon Cheong, Mr. Gouveia and a representative of the Parent/Teachers Association, with Patterson as Chief Executive Officer of the library.

Two persons from the village were trained as librarians to conduct the operations under the umbrella of the National Library, which would lend its continuous support.

Gouveia, who runs Arrowpoint Tourist Resort in the area, said the library was conceptualised when he adopted the school in 1996 but joint efforts utilising resources available there were unsuccessful.

Now it has come to fruition with SIMAP financing, there could be positive developments for the community.

“The children are going to be reading and their knowledge base is going to be widening,” Gouveia observed.

He said he considers education a vital component in the nation’s development thrust but it would necessitate the careful utilisation of the limited resources to harmonise human beings and their environment in a productive way.

“This is exactly what you see here today. After I conceptualised this idea of a library here, a few years ago, I thought, at the time, of the tremendous benefits which could derive from it,”Gouveia said.

He said the setting up of such a service directly links tourism and community development in Guyana and he hopes similar patterns would be followed at other tourist establishments.

Gouveia said reading and research are literacy factors which, when taken seriously, would perpetuate development, dispel ignorance and justify the calls for international peace and understanding.

He pointed out that the undertaking is a consolidated effort also by the Village Councilors, other villagers and many more individuals.

Minister of Education, Dr Henry Jeffrey, in the keynote address, emphasised the importance of libraries to children whose abilities must be recognised by their elders.

“Every child is an enterprise and has specific potentials and abilities, but it is up to us, as adults, to try our best to mould those potentials,” he posited, urging parents and teachers to accept the challenge.

“There is no such thing as a dull child. What we do have is our incapacity to find out what it is that child is doing,” Jeffrey declared.

He said, most children, if treated as individual plants and nurtured, would have their potentials better understood and the relevant resources would be used for their development.

Jeffrey said libraries have taken up added importance today because jobs that require manual labour are disappearing and in almost any employment people must understand how to collect information and package it in such a way that others would want to pay for it.

He said recent findings, in papers presented on early childhood education, revealed that children with more access to reading materials, such as books and magazines, do better in schools and get further in the process.

The Education Minister said, although Santa Mission is a relatively small community, it is vitally important that everyone there learns how to garner information to manipulate the environment.

He said the unfortunate situation in Guyana is that too many people have been leaving school unable to read, properly understand their environment and do simple mathematics.

That is why the Ministry of Education has embarked upon a literacy campaign, intended to see that every child leaving school is capable of dealing with the environment at the international level, the Minister stated.

He said teachers should also seek to upgrade themselves with the available data from libraries and not wait for the ministry to offer courses.

That would help them when they are confronted with questions coming from the classrooms.