The Guyanese Context
Guyana is the only English-speaking country in South America, a former British territory which gained independence and became a republic on May 26, 1966. It is the second poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean after Haiti. Within the English-speaking Caribbean, it is the poorest, presenting with some of the most alarming statistics in the Region: it has the lowest GDP and the highest rates of infant mortality, under-5 mortality, and malnutrition.
Functional literacy levels are only around 60%, and falling. In addition, 89% of out-of-school youth are achieving very low literacy levels. The country also faces continued high emigration levels of health and education professionals, and over 80% of university graduates leave the country in search of better employment opportunities. Most of Guyana’s social development indicators are therefore well below the Caribbean and Latin American averages.