by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 7 September 2006)
There are times, when our attention is required somewhere else, that our routine responsibilities inadvertently get neglected. For example, I recently had a bad infection that required me to rest a lot and kept me from physically doing certain daily activities.
After about a week of this, I looked around to find I was overwhelmed by all of these responsibilities that on a normal basis are just a matter of routine maintenance. The most pressing issues for me right now are firstly that my email inbox is full of unanswered emails and secondly my laundry is piling up.
Paul is great with doing his share of the household chores and would have normally helped with the laundry, but he was out of town all of last week and as far as my emails, there is no one else that can respond to my emails but me.
On Tuesday, I finally felt strong enough to get these items in hand. I decided to start with the laundry and it is almost done now. However, my emails remain unanswered to date and continue to come in. I suppose I will have to make the time to attend to them as well within the next day or so.
I cannot help but think that President Jagdeo must feel a bit overwhelmed about the start of his new term too. There so many (so very many) issues that should have been maintained on a routine basis, but have become overwhelming tasks that would be daunting even to the most optimistic hard worker.
To name just a few, there is the crime situation, the paltry economy, a beleaguered work force, an outdated Constitution, a growing movement among the citizens to privatise the radio and an educational system that has been neglected for so long that it is becoming a real embarrassment to the nation.
There are times when we can be so overwhelmed by the tasks requiring our attention that we simply do not know where to start. For example, my daughter tries her best to keep her room clean. However, she falls way short by our standards and every so often Paul will help her get it organised and cleaned up again.
It could be overwhelming if he just looked at the room all at one time with books, artwork, toys and clothes in all directions. Instead of being overwhelmed, he simply goes after one area at a time and works until it is done, then he moves on to the next area.
I have employed this same strategy many times in life. At one point I had four children, all under the age of five, and often needed to find the most effective way of conquering even the simplest of tasks such as bath time or nightly homework.
Life is much less demanding for me now with just one child left at home, but perhaps the PPP could use this straightforward method to address the many (so very many) matters that they have let get out of control in the past few years (terms).
We can call this method the "Paul Housecleaning Method" and I know just the place to start first – the educational system. The dilapidated state of the educational system is no secret and it is good to know that at least a little progress has been made on building repairs (though many students have been misplaced in the meantime).
However, the educational system needs so much more than just a few repairs on its physical structures. The entire educational process needs to be addressed, including the curriculum, the testing procedures and teacher recruitment and pay increases.
If the President and his soon-to-be appointed Cabinet are feeling overwhelmed at the many (so very many) issues that have gotten out of hand and are needing some guidance on where to start, perhaps the educational system would be the best place to start cleaning house.
The students of today, from primary school all the way through university, are the nation's leaders of tomorrow. These are the people who will be leading the nation and starting businesses. They need every academic advantage that can be afforded to them as soon as possible.
The longer it takes for this issue to be addressed, the more children that are lost to sentiments of failure and neglect. Guyana can ill afford to lose even one more family to migration or one more child to the drug lords because he/she feels that way of life is the only way to make any money in the country.
As the President cleans house in his Cabinet in the next few days (and I say a hearty good riddance), he will no doubt be considering the first steps that should be taken in this new term. If he does employ the "Paul Housecleaning Method" to tackle the many (so very many) issues he overlooked last term, I am confident he will have this country in tip top shape in no time at all.