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Guyana is officially named the Co-operative Republic
of Guyana, and is the only nation state of the Commonwealth of Nations
on the mainland of South America. Guyana lies north of the equator,
in the tropics, and is located on the Atlantic Ocean.
||The flag of Guyana, known as The
Golden Arrowhead, was adopted in 1966. It was designed by Dr.
Whitney Smith, a prominent American vexillologist. The colours
are symbolic: green for agriculture and forests, white for rivers
and water, gold for mineral wealth, black for endurance, and
red for zeal and dynamism.
Guyana is bordered to the east by Suriname, to the
south and southwest by Brazil and to the west by Venezuela. It is
the third smallest country on the mainland of South America. Culturally
it is more associated with the Caribbean than with Latin America
and is the only English-speaking country in South America. It is
also one of 4 non-Spanish-speaking nations on the continent, along
with Brazil (Portuguese), Suriname (Dutch) and French Guiana (French).
||The Coat of arms of Guyana was
granted by Parliament on 25 February 1966.. It includes a crest
of an Amerindian head-dress symbolizing the indigenous people
of the country, this crest is also called the Cacique's Crown;
two diamonds at the sides of the head-dress representing mining
industry; a helmet; two jaguars as supporters holding a pick
axe, sugar cane, and a stalk of rice; a shield decorated with
the Victoria regia lily, Guyana's national flower; three blue
wavy lines representing the three main rivers of Guyana; and
the national bird, the Canje Pheasant.
The national motto, "One people, One
Nation, One Destiny", appears on the scroll below
Guyana is an Amerindian word meaning "Land
of many waters". The country can be characterized by its
vast rain forests dissected by numerous rivers, creeks and waterfalls,
notably Kaieteur Falls on the Potaro River. Guyana's tepuis are
famous for being the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912
novel The Lost World. The country enjoys a diverse, multicultural
society, high floral and faunal biodiversity, prize-winning rum,
and Demerara sugar. Guyana is also known internationally for being
the site of the notorious Jonestown Massacre.
Guyana's educational system, which at one time was considered to
be among the best in the Caribbean, significantly deteriorated in
the 1980s because of the emigration of highly educated citizens
and the lack of appropriate funding. Although the education system
has recovered somewhat in the 1990s, it still does not produce the
quality of educated students necessary for Guyana to modernize its
workforce. The country lacks a critical mass of expertise in many
of the disciplines and activities on which it depends.
The educational system does not sufficiently focus
on the training of Guyanese in science and technology, technical
and vocational subjects, business management, nor computer sciences.
The Guyanese education system is modeled after the former British
education system. Students are expected to write SSEE (secondary
school entrance exam) by grade 6 for entrance into High School in
grade 7. The write CXC at the end of high school. Recently they
have introduced the CAPE exams which all other Caribbean countries
have now introduced. The A-level system left over from the British
era has all but disappeared and is now offered only in a few schools
(current as at January 2007). The reason for the insufficient focus
or various disciplines can be directly attributed to the common
choices made by students to specialize in areas that are similar
(math/chemistry/physics or geography/history/economics). With the
removal of the old A-level system that encouraged this specialization,
it is thought that it will be more attractive for
students to broaden their studies.
There are wide disparities among the geographical
regions of the country in the availability of quality education,
and the physical facilities which are provided are in poor condition.[citation
Further adding to the problems of the educational
system, many of the better-educated professional teachers have emigrated
to other countries over the past two decades, mainly because of
low pay, lack of opportunities and crime. As a result, there is
a lack of trained teachers at every level of Guyana's educational
There are however several very good Private schools
that have sprung up over the last fifteen years. Those schools offer
a varied and balanced curriculum.
 Health conditions
One of the most unfortunate consequences of Guyana's economic decline
in the 1970s and 1980s because of the rule of the PNC (People's
National Congress) was that it led to very poor health conditions
for a large part of the population. Basic health services in the
interior are primitive to non-existent and some procedures are not
available at all. The U.S. State Department Consular Information
Sheet warns "Medical care is available for minor medical conditions.
Emergency care and hospitalization for major medical illnesses or
surgery is limited, because of a lack of appropriately trained specialists,
below standard in-hospital care, and poor sanitation. Ambulance
service is substandard and may not routinely be available for emergencies."
Many Guyanese seek medical care in the United States, Trinidad or
Compared with other neighboring countries, Guyana
ranks poorly in regard to basic health indicators. In 1998, life
expectancy at birth was estimated at 66.0 years for Guyana, 71.6
for Suriname, 72.9 for Venezuela; 73.8 for Trinidad and Tobago,
74.7 for Jamaica, and 76.5 for Barbados. In Guyana, the infant mortality
rate in 1998 was 24.2, in Barbados 14.9; in Trinidad and Tobago
16.2; in Venezuela 22; in Jamaica 24.5; and in Suriname 25.1.
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Maternal mortality rates in Guyana are also relatively
high, being estimate at 124.6/1000 for 1998. Comparable figures
for other Caribbean countries are 50/1000 for Barbados, 75/1000
for Trinidad and 100/1000 for Jamaica.
It must be emphasized, however, that although Guyana's
health profile still falls short in comparison with many of its
Caribbean neighbours, there has been remarkable progress since 1988,
and the Ministry of Health is constantly upgrading conditions, procedures,
and facilities. Open heart surgery is now available in the country,
and in the second half of 2007 an ophthalmic center will open.[citation
The leading causes of mortality for all age groups
are cerebrovascular diseases (11.6%); ischemic heart disease (9.9%);
immunity disorders (7.1%); diseases of the respiratory system (6.8%);
diseases of pulmonary circulation and other forms of heart disease
(6.6%); endocrine and metabolic diseases (5.5%); diseases of other
parts of the Digestive System (5.2%); violence (5.1%); certain condition
originating in the prenatal period (4.3%); and hypertensive diseases
The picture in regard to morbidity patterns differs.
The ten leading causes of morbidity for all age groups are, in decreasing
order: malaria; acute respiratory infections; symptoms, signs and
ill defined or unknown conditions; hypertension; accident and injuries;
acute diarrhoeal disease; diabetes mellitus; worm infestation; rheumatic
arthritis; and mental and nervous disorders.
This morbidity profile indicates that it can be
improved substantially through enhanced preventive health care,
better education on health issues, more widespread access to potable
water and sanitation services, and increased access to basic health
care of good quality.