Four hundred and eighty-seven students from six schools across Guyana – North Ruimveldt Multilateral, Stewartville Secondary, Hope Secondary, Berbice Secondary, St. Ignatius Secondary and the Mackenzie High – are now participating in the National Cadet Corps programme, which was officially reintroduced yesterday at a ceremony held at the Hope Secondary School, East Coast Demerara.

The programme is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), the Ministry of Social Cohesion and the Regional Administration under the motto “Moulding Today’s Youth, Securing Our Future”.

Delivering his address at the opening ceremony, Minister of Social Cohesion with responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. George Norton reaffirmed his commitment to programmes which are designed to foster the development of all Guyanese, particularly the youth.

“This … could not have [come] at a more appropriate time where our youths will be offered opportunities to be constructively engaged in extracurricular activities,” he said.

The Minister commended the course content, which contains a number of activities aimed at moulding and transforming the cadets into productive citizens. He also said that any programme which instils the concepts of accountability, responsibility and etiquette will have his full sport and that of the Ministry of Social Cohesion, as it will help to produce the finest quality of youths in the nation.

He then encouraged the cadets to be bold and to try new experiences and to challenge themselves to learn everything that the programme offers. “…for only then would we be able to produce a calibre of young Guyanese of the finest quality, and as I said … this is [being] done at an appropriate time, where Guyana is at a phase of development where we must ensure that we enjoy maximum benefits from all our citizenry and particularly that of our youths,” Dr. Norton said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Education, Ms. Nicolette Henry said that the programme is designed to produce youths who have the “seriousness of purpose to fulfil their potential as good citizens with the spirit of Guyanese culture and renewed values”.

She said that the National Cadet Corps will introduce cadets to leadership, communication and lifestyle skills training, and would also provide them with the opportunity to travel within the country, through student exchange programmes and expeditions.

Minister Henry also said that she expects the students to become leaders and to build their capacities and characters as individuals.

“The students who attend the [Cadet] Corps at schools will be leaders who will set an example to their peers and their communities… programmes such as this Cadet Corps, I have no doubt, will assist our young people to better understand their role as the nation builders of Guyana,” she said.

Meanwhile, GDF Chief of Staff, Brigadier Patrick West said that the official relaunch of the National Cadet Corps signals the realisation of a directive from the Commander-in-Chief, President David Granger, to establish the programme in secondary schools.

Brigadier West noted that the second component of the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana People’s Militia, which was re-established on December 1, 2015, and is expanding across several administrative regions, was given the mandate to conduct and administer the Cadet Corps in an effort to ensure that youths are moulded and are able to effectively contribute to the national develop process. He echoed the sentiments of the Minister that the programme will prepare well rounded youths into adulthood.

“The programme therefore, aims to build character and teach young people vital life skills for tomorrow’s world which includes, but is not limited to, technical education,” Brigadier West said.

He alluded to the fact of the programme being a pilot in its first year, and posited growth in the future years of the programme with an addition of more schools coming on board.

Yesterday’s launching concluded with participants in the programme entertaining the Ministers with poetry recitals from the students of the host school, steel pan renditions from the North Ruimveldt Steel Pan Orchestra and a march past from the COFORNA Drum Corps.

Chief Education Officer, Mr. Marcel Hutson and the Assistant Director of Youth Ms. Leslyn Boyce also attended the ceremony.