Education in Guyana
The Guyanese government allocated an estimated $31.8 billion to education in Guyana in 2015, nearly 16.6 percent of the total budget. In 2016, $40.3 billion was dedicated to education, which equates to about 17.5 percent of the total budget. This increase in the budget seems to be a trend for Guyana, one which is making a positive impact on the educational system of the country.

Guyana ranks among the top proportional spenders on education in the world. This educational expenditure is viewed by governmental officials as an investment in the country’s long-term socio-economic development.

Guyanese President David Granger said in his address at the National Education Rally in September 2017, “We will improve the delivery of education, the Department of Education System Innovation and Reform is a reality within the Ministry of Education. Innovation will lead to improvement, nothing stands still. There must be more computers in schools, every school must have Wi-Fi and we are working towards that.”

At this rally, President Granger said that “every child in school” is not a slogan, but a declaration of intent and a commitment on the part of his government to eliminate anything in the way of youths accessing education and to help them reach their fullest potential. This declaration is among the explanations Granger has for why Guyana invests so much in education.

The allocated funds have gone towards things like access to schools, construction, extension, rehabilitation and maintenance of Guyana’s educational facilities. It has also gone to things like the “President’s Five Bs”, which are buses, boats, bicycles, breakfast and books. The country’s rural areas are most affected by transportation costs, so by addressing that issue, school attendance is increasing, as families no longer have to shoulder many of the financial burdens of educating children. Many children had to walk or row for hours simply to get to school in the morning, but with new buses, that will not be an issue anymore.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics education has already shown incredible promise. At the First Global Challenge in Washington D.C. this past year, the Guyana team placed tenth out of 165 countries overall.

Granger has said that “What we want is a generation of young people, who are educated, who can use computers, who can use machines and help themselves to make a good living… Once you get an education, you would be able to use it…your skills and your technology to use the very products that are coming out of your region in what is called agro-processing. Anything you produce can be processed and exported.”

Agro-processing is among the specific reasons that Guyana invests in education and shows that it is a socioeconomic benefit for Guyana in the long-run. Granger stated that Guyana has all of the necessary resources of fertile land and produce, as well as a tourism industry, but does not yet have enough educated people to develop those resources into full-fledged industries.

It seems that investing in education in Guyana will make President Granger’s vision of a better socioeconomic country a reality with the coming generations.

Gabriella Paez

Photo: Flickr

Malls in Africa
In late September 2013, a group of Al-Shabab terrorists entered the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya and opened fire on its patrons. The siege lasted about four days leaving at least seventy people dead, including women and children. In the aftermath of the Westgate Mall attack, the question, “Why a mall?” remains.

At first glance, it appeared that the attackers chose the mall because white patrons frequently visit it. However, pictures and video from the attack that later surfaced show that a variety of people were caught in the crossfire. Whether the terrorists knew it or not, the importance of malls in Africa and the very different roles they have in society as compared to those in the United States, create a security hazard that may be breached in the future.

By the year 2025, more than half of Africa’s population will live in cities, nearly a 25% percent increase from thirty years before. Africa has the fastest growing middle class in the world, and the retail industry is developing rapidly as a result. As investment shifts from natural resources, plans to build malls in Africa to meet retail demand are growing as well. Currently, about fifty mega malls are expected to be built by one South African development company.

Malls play an important role in modern African cities because they act as an epicenter for socioeconomic development. In surrounding communities, class separations are evident through gates and barbed wire that divide the rich and poor. As malls in America are characterized by some as centers of economic conformism, African malls create an opportunity for a diverse assembly of people to engage in activities and behavior that they may not normally be comfortable with due to the more traditional views of the areas.

The difference between African and American malls can also be seen in their interior characteristics. Generally, malls in Africa are much cleaner than American malls and elaborately decorated. Compared to the surrounding environments, these malls offer patrons the feeling of entering a new world. As African citizens continue to become more sophisticated and technologically advanced, the elaborately designed atmospheres in these malls provide a break from issues that plague many different areas of the continent such as rough public infrastructure, internal government conflicts and the mark of dire poverty.

The increase in mega mall development in Africa will enhance infrastructure and give people a glimpse of an innovative and developed African dream. However, the Westgate Mall attack may result in a boost in security precautions at malls all over Africa, and patrons may find it difficult to find an escape in the mall from harsh realities that exist outside their walls.

Daren Gottlieb

Sources: PolicyMic New Republic