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. 

All of the above factors, not surprisingly, have a knock-back effect on government programs in social policy. In our case, the impact is on programs for children with disabilities.