When the Golden Arrowhead was hoisted and the Union Jack lowered on May 26, 1966- fifty years ago, many Guyanese were imbued with a new sense of hope, a spirit of pride and nationalism, envisaging a Guyana which is vastly different from the one that exists today.
Where are we going?
International Organizations have long compiled data from countries around the world to measure performance in key areas, providing country rankings based on specific performance metrics. The Human Development Report releases five indices each year- The Human Development Index (HDI), the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI), the Gender Development Index (GDI), the Gender Inequality Index (GII), and the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) are some of the indices.
The Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary measure of achievements in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living. The HDI is the geometric mean of normalized indices for each of the three dimensions (UNDP).
HDI score – 0.6369
Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) –health, education and standard of living-score:0.031
Gender Development Index(GDI)- long and healthy life, knowledge and decent standard of living-score: 0.984
Gender Inequality Index(GII)-health environment and labor market –score:0.515
Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index(IHDI)-score-0.520
Guyana Ranks 124 out of 188 countries (2015 HDR Report).Guyana scores lower than countries like Iraq,Palestine,Bosnia,LebanonAzerbaijan-not to mention Jamaica,Dominica,Suriname,Grenada ,Cuba to name a few of our neighbors.
What strategic plans are in place to improve the HDR ranking?
Guyana has an inadequately educated work force (World Bank) which impedes progress and sustained growth. This deficiency arose from the continuous exodus of qualified and skilled Guyanese who sought opportunity and a brighter future in foreign lands during the early sixties – a trend which has continued over the past six decades. The brain drain, as it is commonly referred to by economists and migration experts, has relegated Guyana to the category of having the highest emigration rate of skilled labor in the region. These hundreds of thousand s of qualified and skilled Guyanese now form the diaspora-even more qualified and experienced.
Without a strategy to reverse the exodus and create” brain circulation and, brain banks, “it is fair to conclude that achieving a better ranking in Human Development Report (HDR) will remain a challenge-an almost insurmountable one.
CHINA vs GUYANA
When China embarked on a program to develop it’s Hi -Tech industry in the 90’s, delegations were sent to recruit Chinese PhDs from around the world. This strategy was successful due to the fact that China had created diaspora institutions at the central, regional and local government levels-much like other countries including Mexico and the Philippines –excluding Guyana. But China also knew that a one- dimensional approach is not an effective diaspora engagement strategy. Much like India, Brazil, Germany and even Jamaica, China has recognized that “calling for Chinese to return home” to invest is not the most effective way, or the only way to engage its diaspora. The diaspora engagement process is multi-dimensional.
Part of the solution for Guyana’s deficiency in human capital, lack of technical know-how in capacity building, paucity in innovation and sustainable human development can be found in the source of the problem itself. Filling the gaps created by staggering emigration represents the first step for a country which has less than 800,000 people, and zero to negative population growth, compounded by a high illiteracy rate.
The solution to the problem is engaging the diaspora through a highly organized institution with sound policies and programs which the diaspora find/s attractive and appealing through inclusion of diaspora input in the policy formulation process. There must be a paradigm shift from the antiquated approach and notion of viewing the diaspora as merely soliciting financial investors from the diaspora..
Guyana has many more serious problems than the lack of direct investment which is an obstacle facing most developing countries. If Guyana could improve its HDR ranking from 124 to 123 or 120, in another two years, it will have made a significant achievement. Time will be the final arbiter.