Dear Editor,Guyana is already inundated by alcohol and alcoholics, so I see no need for our law-making institution, the Parliament, to store or encourage the consumption of this product in that hallowed institution. So come on, legislators; if you really need this stuff, please go to bars and clubs etc.One question for the former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, or Speakers, or indeed Parliamentarians: Was alcohol served or available in Parliament at any time before in our history? I would be grateful for this clarification, since the impression I get from reading what is written in the press is that this phenomenon is of recent vintage!I think this alcohol abuse crisis must be made an elections issue, and I would like to hear clear views and opinions from all potential presidential candidates, so we can see if principles will trump politics.Caitlin Vieira has made it clear, in her contributions, that alcohol is a most dangerous drug, and must be seen in that light.I urge Ms Vieira and others of similar ilk to launch a pressure group to bring legislation similar to the Tobacco Bill to arrest this runaway problem of alcohol abuse.While I understand the general thrust of Ms Vieira’s article of Sunday, August 26th, 2018, I do disagree with her conclusion. She says, “If someone drinks every day, it does not necessarily mean that they have a problem with alcohol. For example, I know many people that have one glass of wine or beer with dinner, there isn’t anything wrong with that.”Firstly, I would counter her 1st statement and say that it does not necessarily mean that they DO NOT have a problem. Her second conclusion seems to be based on just casual opinion and on what may be practised commonly in this and other societies. But, Ms. Caitlin Vieira, I now draw your attention to the conclusions of a leading world expert in the above-mentioned report by Max Griswold, who is the lead author for 500 experts in the field, and his conclusions ostensibly contradict yours! (See below)Paris (AFP) – Even an occasional glass of wine or beer increases the risk of health problems and dying, according to a major study on drinking in 195 nations that attributes 2.8 million premature deaths worldwide each year to booze.“There is no safe level of alcohol,” said Max Griswold, a researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, Washington and lead author for a consortium of more than 500 experts.Despite recent research showing that light-to-moderate drinking reduces heart disease, the new study found that alcohol use is more likely than not to do harm.“The protective effect of alcohol was offset by the risks,” Griswold told AFP in summarising the results, published in medical journal The Lancet on Friday.“Overall, the health risks associated with alcohol rose in line with the amount consumed each day.”Compared to abstinence, imbibing one “standard drink” — 10 grammes of alcohol, equivalent to a small beer, glass of wine, or shot of spirits — per day, for example, ups the odds of developing at least one of two dozen health problems by about half-a-percent, the researchers reported.Looked at one way, this seems like a small increment, 914 out of 100,000 teetotallers will encounter those problems, compared to 918 people who imbibe seven times per week.“But at the global level, that additional risk of 0.5 percent among (once-a-day) drinkers corresponds to about 100,000 additional deaths each year,” said senior author Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor at the University of Washington and a director at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.– ‘Less is better, none is best’ – “Those are excess deaths, in other words, that could be avoided,” she told AFP. The risk climbs in a steep “J-curve”, the study found.An average of two drinks per day, for example, translated into a 7.0 percent hike in disease and injury compared to those who opt for abstinence.With five “units” of alcohol per day, the likelihood of serious consequences jumps by 37 percent.The “less is better, none is best” finding jibes with the World Health Organisation’s Guidelines (Please note that this latest research has been published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet)Editor, in 2017, two senior Government Ministers — Dr George Norton and Mr Khemraj Ramjattan — pronounced on this matter publicly, indicating that serious measures must be taken to curb this problem in Guyana. To date, as far as I am aware, nothing tangible has been done (except 2:00am curfew). Come on, sirs; let’s not be people who just talk; be bold and responsible enough to initiate and sponsor bills to deal with this most dangerous problem, which clearly is the cause for many homicides, cases of domestic abuse, accidents on the road, and industrial accidents etc.We have just had the case of an alcohol addict burning down his wife’s home because she refused to give him $500.00 to buy himself a drink!!! What are we waiting for?I now ask senior Minister of Health Volda Lawrence (Now PNC Chair Person, congratulations in order!) to bring this matter to the fore as the subject Minister, and I think this will be a real feather in her cap if she can bring alcohol sale/usage/control legislation into the Parliament by November 30th 2019. Surely, this is achievable in one year.Let’s get this done in haste for the betterment of this country. Can we do it? Of course we can!Yours sincerely,Christopher MPersaud
CSEC resultsThe pass rate for Mathematics at this year’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination was well below 50 per cent and the Education Ministry has squarely blamed these results on a few structural changes in the papers.Chief Education Officer Marcel HutsonChief Education Officer Marcel Hutson said at a recent engagement that this ‘little shift’ directly affected the children and, thus, caused a mere 43 per cent overall pass percentage.“Mathematics came in at 43 per cent, the same thing we had last year, but there was a little shift in terms of the structure of the paper. The concept was there and so the shift threw some of our children off track but you learn from lessons,” Hutson indicated.The senior education official, however, informed that they will review these results and employ a newer approach to produce better results. He stated that teachers need additional training in content and methodology.“I could say that we are now familiar with the shift and what CXC will be doing but not withstanding all of that, we will continue to train our teachers in content and methodology because I think those two areas are critical…Mathematics is a subject area that will require lots of practice and familiarity the different strands and therefore concentration will be focused on those particular areas”.In just over eight months, students from across the country will sit the examinations again. In fact, preparations would have already begun with those who would enter their final year in September. As such, Hutson is convinced that the performance will develop.“We believe that come next year, you will see an improved performance in Mathematics and…I think we will be better prepared to deal with the concepts…The improvement that we would have seen in many of those areas were as a result of workshops, training sessions and basically have to do with building capacity with our teachers and, so we have seen that”.This year, some 11, 467 students were registered to sit the examinations this year with 67,000 subject entries. Apart from Mathematics, there was improvement for English Language, with a 77 per cent overall success as opposed to 67 per cent in 2018. The performance improved across 21 subject areas while seven showed constant figures. Seven subject areas demonstrated declines namely – Caribbean History, Economics, English B, Integrated Science, Human and Social Biology, Textiles and Clothing, and French.For the science subjects, there were improvements in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, and both double and single awards Agricultural Science. This followed for the business subjects, being evident in Office Administration, Principles of Business and Principles of Accounts, whereas Electronic Documentation Preparation and Management (EDPM) maintained constant performance.