– schools to be retrofitted to ‘exist in a COVID-19 world’

-$300M for Learning Channel expansion, new radio station

– $3B to support UG

Budget 2020 caters for the disruption in education delivery caused by the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with an allocation of $52Billion to the sector. It also covers provision for the retrofitting of schools with the necessary infrastructure for their eventually reopening.

In presenting the National 2020 Budget today, Minister of Public Works, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill, explained that given the new dynamics of learning from home, the monies will support the procurement and distribution of learning materials.

“The nursery students will be given individual home-based packages containing print material, manipulatives and other appropriate resources. The primary and secondary students will each receive work books and the core text books in Math, English, Social Studies and Science which they will use during this time and beyond.”

Moreover, Government is also focused on more innovative ways of learning and as such has budgeted over $300Million to cater for an expansion of the Guyana Learning Channel and the establishment of the radio station specially dedicated to education delivery.

Minister Edghill explained that in its current composition, the Guyana Learning Channel cannot meet the learning needs across the country. “Therefore, we will expand and upgrade so that 6 channels can run concurrently. This upgrade will also permit for hinterland communities that are currently unserved to be catered for. In conjunction with this channel, we have provided funds in this Budget to establish a radio station which will be dedicated to delivering education.”

Towards the eventual reopening of schools, the Minister explained that funds have been made available for “sinks with running water, proper ventilation, working toilets, the delivery of masks to our teachers, students and ancillary staff and adequate signage to promote safe behaviour in all learning institutions and in all schools.”

In the area of higher learning, the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) will benefit from allocations “to facilitate learning continuity in hinterland centres of teacher education and to facilitate the virtual teacher education programme”.

In addition, all teachers will also be benefitting from a mass teacher training exercise in effective education delivery through Information Communications Technology (ICT), as previously announced by Minister of Education, Hon. Priya Manickchand.

For the University of Guyana (UG), Government will be dispensing $3Billion in support. Of this “$221.3 million is allocated to complete and advance several roll-over projects across both campuses including the new sewer system, the human resources and bursary building, the pump house, teaching learning centre and electrical upgrade projects,” Minister Edghill explained.

According to Minister Edghill, Budget 2020, which totals $330Billion, took 22 days to complete in comparison to the usual 150 days. The Budget is focused mostly on COVID-19 relief measures and revamping the economy.