In the early 1980s, my economic development teacher, Edwin Reuben, advised his class to visit countries whose development model could be emulated, or recommended, for poor developing countries. The aim behind Dr. Reuben’s advice was to encourage visits to rapidly developing countries to learn how they developed, while gaining practical experience and gaining expertise on development that could be applied elsewhere. Developmental models studied in class included Japan, Southeast Asian tigers, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey and others. China and Dubai were not among those studied at the time; in fact, both looked to the model of other countries for their own development. Professor Reuben’s advice took me (as a visiting student) to all these countries and more from 1985 to study and discover their approaches or development models.
Guyana should encourage students of local economics to study successful country development models, visit them for hands-on experience, and come back with advice on the model for Guyana. Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, etc. sent their students to study the development of Western countries and return to their own countries and apply what they learned. China and the United Arab Emirates would send their students abroad to study abroad by emulating the models of the miracle economies of Southeast Asia. Each country had its own characteristics and resources, or lack thereof, and its experience and therefore its own development model. One model does not fit all. Guyanese or Guyanese students could learn and apply the homeland development aspects of each country studied. Each country visited was a learning experience. These were incredible savings. Each had their own story of how they became successful. Singapore, for example, had no resources, not even food. Guyana preceded it around 1960. Yet in a few years, it overtook Guyana in development; it had become a first world economy in 2000. Its per capita income is about ten times higher than that of Guyana. I have visited some countries several times, years apart, to follow their economic progress.
It is amazing how these relatively poor countries (during the 1970s) mobilized their limited financial resources to become role models for others during the 1980s. They learned and were supported by the West to experience a rapid growth. Anti-Western countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have paid the price. Asia’s prosperous economies were pro-Western. Dubai and China, which are much talked about today, were nowhere seen as economic models for other countries until the new millennium. In fact, they were largely underdeveloped in the 1980s and emulated the model of Southeast Asian countries to become rapidly developing economies today. China has copied a lot from Singapore – the LKY model. Argentina, Brazil and Mexico grew rapidly for a few years in the 70s and 80s, but with heavy debt that would lead to economic chaos. We now speak of Dubai as a model of development for poor countries. It should be studied like China and the miracle economies of Southeast Asia. The government should consider helping students study economic models that can be emulated for our development.