I read with interest that Minister of the Public Service, Sonia Parag, reported that over the last five years the award of scholarships has been “heavily flawed” and “skewed to one demographic” (Stabroek News, August 25, 2020). I am not surprised that when she was asked by Stabroek News to identify the demographic group, she declined.
Demographic data include race/ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic status (SES), and other variables. PPP politicians have not been able to address race/ethnic issues using data-driven approaches, possibly because of the implications it will have on privileged and disenfranchised race/ethnic groups in the public sector in and around the urban centre of Georgetown and rural areas.
I assume that the reason why the Minister did not provide information on the “demographic” that was favoured in the awarding of scholarships is that she did not want to upset the un-named “demographic”. It is almost useless to say that scholarships awarded by the previous government were skewed towards one demographic and not name the demographic. Does she have something to hide – the truth?
In all major scientific disciplines, race/ethnicity, geographic (urban versus rural) and other demographic variables are important in the scientific foundations of policy in multiethnic communities/countries. Without race/ethnicity and other demographic variables, it will be impossible to scientifically undertake targeted intervention, for example, in the allocation of resources, disease prevention efforts, educational services, etc.
Racial/ethnic disparities, geographic disparities, and SES disparities have long been established scientific disciplines, for example, towards the understanding of institutional racism or cancer etiology.
In Guyana, the strange phenomenon of hiding race/ethnicity in pronouncing on observations in the public sector is unscientific and dangerous in terms of equity and justice for people of different race/ethnic groups in the country.