Skills training at Kuru Kuru A GINA feature by Michelle Johnson
Guyana Chronicle
June 23, 2002

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THE Kuru Kuru Training Complex, formerly used as a military camp, has been transformed. The military component has been relinquished and emphasis is now placed on skills training, with eight areas being specifically addressed.

The Residential Youth Entrepreneurial Skills Training Programme now occupies the Kuru Kuru Training Complex compound along with Dora

Secondary, Primary and Nursery Schools, where about 100 students from varied backgrounds converge in an environment conducive to individual and group development.

A health centre, workshop, power plant, storehouse or bond and library are also on the premises. There is also a trained social worker on site to render assistance. Adequate electricity and water is supplied daily to the complex.

A Government of Guyana-sponsored programme supplies meals for the students, as well as hats, tops, pants, shoes and basic literature. Graduation uniforms are also provided for these students.

The Chief Administrative Officer, Mr. Edward Lord, along with cooks, teachers, a nurse and other support staff are on the premises daily to ensure things work smoothly.

The student's daily routine begins at 4:30am daily with clean up and drills. They are expected to do their own laundry and keep their dorms clean. All dorms have dorm managers who act as dorm mothers and fathers.

These dorms also have television sets to facilitate recreation and learning.

Social activities are in place on weekends as well as during the week for the students, while evenings and afternoons are designated study periods. Students are also exposed to games, cultural activities and tours, while weekends are open for visits by parents and guardians.

In this clean and spacious environment, these youths between the ages of 16 and 25 years, with numerous cultural differences, initially find it difficult to adjust but eventually get the hang of it.

The colours red, blue, green, orange and cream are worn by the students daily and identify the various homes in which the children reside, adding a colourful flavour to brighten not only the hearts of observers, but also the hearts of the students themselves.

This programme, is a wonderful opportunity for children, and prioritises discipline. There are students who are juvenile offenders. No physical violence or disrespect is tolerated and students are also given a monthly stipend.

Most of the children are happy with the programme. Some even made it clear that they did not miss home or their family and friends, while others said they receive mail from friends and family in their hometown regularly.

For the year 2001-2003 about 700 young people applied to participate in the programme, but only 150 between the ages of 16 and 25 were chosen. One hundred and forty two will be graduating in July.

This programme's basic tenet is a total approach to training where remedial English and Mathematics classes are conducted. There are classes dealing with life skills, drugs HIV/AIDS, conflict resolution and gender issues, among others. There are also guest lecturers from time to time.

The skills training component will cover business studies, carpentry, plumbing and sheet metal work, masonry, electrical installation, joinery, motor mechanics and welding and fabrication.

Mr. Lord said: "Children come with the specific purpose of learning a skill."

Upon completion of this programme, students can enroll at the Guyana Technical Institute (GTI), Government Industrial Training Centre (GITC), New Amsterdam Technical Institute (NATI) and the Indian Technical Institute (ITI). It is hoped that the Board of Industrial Training will approve the certificates issued, so that the students can use them to acquire jobs.

Skills' training has been high on the agenda of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport for a number of years. This has been evident in their resident and non-resident training programmes in Sophia, Kuru Kuru and the New Opportunity Corps.

The Ministry has embarked on a similar programme at Smythfield New Amsterdam, and is also planning to share shorter programmes of this nature in various communities' countrywide.