today is the talk of the town. The People's National Congress/Reform (PNC/R)
believes that its street protestors have demonstrated because they are
marginalized, among other things. Let's not sweep under the rug the fact
the PNC/R marginalized both the African and East Indian Guyanese working
class in the infamous '28 years' of the Burham/Hoyte rule. Also, let it
be known that today while some African Guyanese experience poverty in
the urban areas, some East Indian, Amerindians, and African Guyanese,
in that order, confront poverty in the rural locales. Poverty, in itself,
though, is not sufficient to marginalize any population group. Over the
period 1968 through 1992, the PNC victimized and marginalized the working-class.
DEMOCRACY was restored to Guyana in 1992, bringing with it all the fundamental
civil rights that were previously removed. In today's Guyana, however,
only African Guyanese have been presented as the marginal people, and
apparently, according to this thinking, they experience some kind of marginality.
The marginal man has been described by Park (1949) as "one whom fate
has condemned to live in two, not merely different but antagonistic cultures."
There are three types of marginality.
First, we have cultural marginality where a minority group shares some
cultural aspects of the dominant group, but shares other cultural facets
with one or more minority groups. In effect, the marginal person is estranged
from some cultural characteristics of the dominant society.
Second, social marginality refers to a situation where a minority group
is not allowed to participate fully in the institutions of the dominant
society through prejudice and discrimination. In this case, their marginality
is mainly experienced in the occupational structures.
Third, we have political marginality where prejudice and discrimination
are legalized to disallow full participation in the dominant society.
Since prejudice and discrimination have no legal basis in Guyana, the
only marginality types of relevance here are social and cultural.
In this paper, however, the main focus will be on social marginality where
the occupational structure is the focus. This paper is part of a larger
study on marginalization in different institutions in multiethnic societies.
Specifically, here, we examine the levels of participation of East Indian
and African Guyanese in the administrative decision-making process. The
level of participation in decision making is a useful indicator of the
level of marginalization in a society. Our focus will be on the public
sector, education, State Boards, Neighborhood Development Council (NDC)
expenditures, State Media Boards, and the distribution sector.
This study is strategic in a democratization process, which calls for
a more open and a more participatory society. Meaningful participation
in significant institutions of society will contribute to preserving peace
and security, securing justice and human rights, promoting economic and
social development, and creating a political culture where the will of
the people is accepted as the basis of governmental authority.
movement toward democratization should enable all Guyanese, regardless
of ethnicity to progressively participate at all levels of the institutional
decision-making process. More fundamentally, democratization will facilitate
vigorous participation of all our citizens at different levels of the
This Table shows the senior and administrative ranks for most Ministries
of the public service. These are Human Services, Security, and Labor,
Health, Home Affairs, Public Works, Agriculture, Information, Foreign
Affairs, Education, and Finance. Ministries not included at this stage
are Housing, Legal Affairs, Culture, and Trade. Their inclusion would
have sustained the general conclusions herein outlined because of similar
Indians are in large numbers in the upper echelons of the Ministry where
they comprise two-thirds of the Ministers. At the level of the Permanent
Secretary, both East Indians and Africans are in strong numbers. However,
Africans control all the other senior administrative and executive positions,
such as, Deputy Permanent Secretaries, Principal Assistant Secretaries,
Assistant Secretaries, Accountant Heads, and Senior Personnel Officers.
Africans, therefore, certainly are not marginalized in the upper levels
of the hierarchy in the public service. There is, in effect, an emergent
ethnic mix in the hierarchy of control.
This Table illustrates the ethnicity of Heads in the high schools, elementary,
and nursery schools, and the ethnic composition of Regional Education
Officers (REDOs) in the 10 Regions. Most Heads are Africans in all three
types of school. Only in the elementary schools do East Indians show competitiveness
with Africans for Headships. In the People's National Congress Administration,
it was not unusual to find on average that 70% of the Regional Education
Officers were Africans. Today, the racial imbalance has been narrowed
to the point where we have about 50% of REDOs are Africans, followed by
East Indians with 40%. (Source: Ministryof Education)
East Indian Guyanese predominate in the senior positions of School Heads
and Deputy School Heads only in Regions 2 and 3. African Guyanese occupy
these positions in Regions 4 through 10. Some schools only have an Acting
Deputy Head partly because currently no Teaching Service Commission exists.
This Commission as well as others have not been established because of
the PNC's refusal to participate in the parliamentary process. (Source:
Ministry of Education)
Most school heads in Regions 2, 3, and 6 are East Indians, while the majority
of school heads in Regions 4, 5, and 10 are Africans. East Indian school
heads are found in the largest majority in Regions 2 and 3. African school
heads predominate in Regions 4 and 5, 7, and 10. African Guyanese are
in the majority in all State Boards in Education. Their prominence is
more conspicuous on those State Boards governing the National Library,
Cyril Potter College of Education, Government Technical Institute, and
the President's College. East Indian and African Guyanese are present
in almost similar numbers on the University Council and Queen's College.
However, East Indian Guyanese are in a majority on the University Council,
while African Guyanese predominate at Queen's College.
Table 5 shows that in a review of 27 other State Boards, we see African
Guyanese in the majority on 13 and East Indian Guyanese on 12, with two
State Boards having equal numbers drawn from these two major ethnic groups.
The Guyana Medical Council and the Pesticide & Toxic Control Boards
have equal numbers of East Indian and African Guyanese. Boards predominantly
African Guyanese are BIDCO; Kaieteur Parks Commission; National Archives;
Museum; National trust; Parole; National Edible Oil; Bermine; and the
General Post Office. Boards predominantly East Indian Guyanese are: Guyana
Fisheries; GOINVEST; EPA; and Lands & Survey.
GBC, GTV, and Guyana Chronicle are the three State Media found in Guyana.
Of the three, only GTV is partly financed through the Consolidated Fund.
Some people may be disappointed to learn that, contrary to popular perceptions,
only one State Media (GTV) is partly funded through taxpayers' money.
and East Indians are equally represented on the GBC Board of Directors,
constituting together almost the total Board membership. Africans make
up about two-thirds of the GTV Board of Directors, and most of the Directors
on the Guyana Chronicle Board are East Indians. Again, the data does not
support marginalization of any of the two major ethnic groups on State
Region Four is the most populated of all ten Regions, and has a significant
African population. This Region also houses Georgetown, the Capital City
of Guyana. Georgetown has a large number of urban African dwellers. Region
4 has a budgetary allocation of $148M for the year 2002. The Regional
Administration has now assigned $85.7M in the areas indicated in Table
7. The residual sum of $62.6M has been allocated for projects in other
parts of the Region.
Again, Region 10, with a huge African population, has a budgetary allocation
of $219.7 million in 2002. This sum is intended to increase the provision
of social services in Region 10. These budgetary allocations, indeed,
do not demonstrate any marginalization experienced by Africans. People
who are marginalized are not beneficiaries of sizable sums of budgetary
Over the years 1993 through 2000, East Indians and Africans equally copped
the Medal of Service and the Golden Arrow of Achievement Awards. Africans
received most of the Order of Roraima, Order of Excellence, Military Service
Medal, and Discipline Service Medal Awards. In totality, Africans bagged
more than half of all the National Awards since 1993. The distribution
of National Awards has not marginalized Africans. If anything, East Indians
may have been peripheralized in this process.
Social marginality where people are deprived of full participation in
the society unquestionably is not a characteristic in the Guyana public
sector. East Indians were marginalized in the public service and being
recipients of National Awards in the Burnham years of the PNC regime,
as attested to by a 1979 study. Today, with a greater ethnic mix in the
public service, the talk of marginalization of African Guyanese is totally