Ministry of Education, Guyana

Saturday, 09 February 2019 08:50

Minister Norton engages Port Mourant Youths

─ Paves way for initiatives to address unemployment

The Minister of Social Cohesion, Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. George Norton led a team to Port Mourant, Region Six, to address some of the issues facing young people there.

The team, which included Regional Executive Officer, Kim Williams-Stephen, Assistant Director of Youth, Leslyn Boyce and Technical Officer within the Department of Social Cohesion, Pamela Nauth, met with over two dozen young people at Ankerville, Port Mourant, East Berbice, Corentyne.

The decision to conduct the outreach was taken at a meeting Minister Norton held with members of a US-based charity called Humanitarian Mission Incorporated, only two days prior.

The organisation’s Chairman, Suresh Sugrim informed Minister Norton that the charity owns and runs a youth-friendly centre in Port Mourant that can be of use to the Ministry.

Dr. Norton accepted the offer to utilise the facility and directed the Department of Youth to examine programmes that can be immediately rolled out at the location. During his visit to the region, Minister Norton toured the centre and expressed satisfaction at what he 20190211 6

“This is a beautiful building. I am very impressed with it and I am certain that the Ministry will be able to utilise it to have a positive impact on the community,” Dr. Norton said.

During the discussions, it was decided that training in the areas of plumbing and welding would be suitable additions to the centre, which currently offers classes in literacy, cooking, garment construction and information technology.

“I want to congratulate Mr. Sugrim for his dedication towards keeping this centre up and running. Your commitment to the youths of this community is admirable, and I want to assure you that you now have the full support of the Ministry of the Presidency, Department of Social Cohesion, Culture, Youth and Sport. We are here to help you in whatever way we can. Together, I am certain that we will be able to make a difference in the lives of young people in Region Six. Let us start here,” Mr. Norton charged.

Mr. Sugrim was tasked with presenting a budget to the Department of Youth as soon as possible, so as to finalise funding for the new programmes.

“We are hoping to begin these training within the next two weeks. One of the things that we would want to put in place before we begin is proper accreditation. At the end of the programmes, we want every participant to be able to earn a meaningful certificate that can be used as a tool to better their lives,” Ms. Boyce said.


Following a lengthy discussion with the youths on Thursday, it was realised that the biggest issue affecting youths in Port Mourant was unemployment. Addressing that topic specifically, Minister Norton elaborated on the importance of youth entrepreneurship, explaining how unrealistic it is for persons to expect the Government to provide jobs for all eligible Guyanese.

“This is why we are working so very tirelessly to provide young people with the tools needed for them to start their own businesses and create their own jobs,” Minister Norton noted.

Leslyn Boyce, in delivering a very comprehensive presentation, spoke on the programmes being offered by the Department of Youth – from the residency training at the Kuru Kuru Training Centre to the Youth Innovation Programme, which affords young people the opportunity to benefit from grants to kick start their own businesses.

“As a feature of the Youth Innovation Programme, we have placed mentors in every region to help interested persons with crafting proper proposals, and fulfil all the requirements needed to access up to $2M in funding for their respective projects,” Boyce informed.

In the National Budget for 2019, programmes aimed at developing and empowering Guyana’s youth population secured an allocation of $1B.

“Of that money, $70M has been allotted to the Youth Innovation Programme. I encourage you to apply. We will help with whatever we can. We can’t reach every young person, so spread the word. All you have to do is reach out to us. We are here to help you,” Boyce urged.

With regard to some other minor matters that were raised, the REO, Williams-Stephen pledged the regional administration’s support towards ensuring that these are resolved.


Meanwhile, Technical Officer of the Department of Social Cohesion, Pamela Nauth spoke extensively on the importance of building strong partnerships, encouraging the youths to be each other’s keepers.

“What we see here today, is the realization of a partnership which will improve the lives of youths in this and neighbouring villages. This is just a small indicator of the prosperity we can achieve if all Guyanese came together and work towards the development of our country and its people. This is what we call Social Cohesion,” Ms. Nauth stressed.


Nauth, a human rights activist, also underscored the need for young people to pay attention to their mental health.

“As human beings, we are all faced with problems and challenges – financially, emotionally, in or relationships, at work, etc. Often times these issues take a toll on our mental health and it prevents us from achieving our true potential. We are humans; it is how we were conditioned. But I want you to rest assured that no matter how bad a day may seem, it will get better, and talking about it helps,” Nauth said.

“Sometimes all we need is someone to listen; someone to say that they understand what we are going through so that we are reminded that we are not alone. We all have problems affecting us; we just have different ways of dealing with them. A healthy way is to talk to somebody, and there are many, many helplines that you can call. I will provide a list of numbers before we leave here today, and I want you to share it with your friends and family,” Ms. Nauth encouraged.

In bringing the curtains down on the engagement, Sugrim thanked the team for their prompt response to the community.

“I am very happy that within a matter of two days, we are able to streamline plans to address the concerns of youths in Port Mourant. I whole-heartedly thank Minister Norton and his team for all the initiatives taken here today, and I look forward to seeing this community reaping the fruits of today’s engagements,” Mr. Sugrim said.


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