A confidence booster
December 23, 2003
It was encouraging to read the letter by Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Al Creighton, in our Saturday issue captioned "U.G. Science graduates have done extremely well at overseas universities." It showed that despite all the well- known problems in our educational system and the lack of laboratory equipment at the university there are still quite a few Guyanese capable of hard work, dedication and considerable achievement. Mr. Creighton noted the good record of science graduates at many prestigious overseas universities. He admitted that some graduates had not performed "as expected" when they had gone to work in industry here but said that this was because further practical training was needed which they could only get on the job, a problem that existed everywhere else.
All is not lost, though the corrosive self-contempt that has almost become a part of the Guyanese psyche would have us believe that we are among the most backward, disorganised, unambitious and underachieving people in the world. It is good to get some evidence that contradicts this from time to time.
The negative mindset that we have learnt to cultivate is really quite harmful to national dignity and peace of mind. If we perpetually tell ourselves we are no good we'll eventually come to believe it, even in cases where that is clearly not so. If things were as bad as we keep hearing the country would grind to a halt. But teachers are still teaching, some of them well and with dedication despite their low salaries, surgeons are operating, nurses are caring their patients, bus drivers are dropping their passengers (often too fast and too noisily) and so on. There are severe problems, standards have fallen in many areas. But what must be avoided is a complete despair, a throwing in of the towel, a feeling that our problems are overwhelming and cannot be dealt with.
To put it another way, while we must not delude ourselves into underrating the enormous problems we face as a nation, we must try to view them in sober perspective. Those who have travelled are well aware of the problems other societies face, including the developed ones. It isn't easy, anywhere. Let the facts in Mr. Creighton's letter serve as a morale booster for the new year. We have the capacity to do things, what is needed is perseverance, dedication and an end to the negative mindset. No one can solve everything, nor should they try, but everyone can make a difference in their own area if they do their job well.