Residents of Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice) are on board with the administration’s Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL) programme, following a launch in Linden on Monday.

The initiative is a flagship project of the PPP/C government in keeping with a campaign manifesto promise to deliver 20,000 online scholarships to citizens within the first term in office.
Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, met prospective applicants during a meeting at the Mackenzie High School.

The minister told them that the government is investing in their education and that the rollout of the initiative in the region is a testament to the value the administration places on the people. He said the scholarships are intended to provide equal opportunities and access.

Through the programme, Minister Edghill said, “We are going to prosper Guyana for all Guyanese. We are going to bring development to all of Guyana, and that is not based on the result of the ballot box … This is a way to go to make life more comfortable and to make life easier for the people of Guyana.”

While focusing his address on upliftment through education delivery, the minister also said, “life is about learning”, and that the programme will award scholarships to deserving students 18 years and older across the country.

Minister Edghill reminded Lindeners that Prime Minister, Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips is working to ensure that the Internet is both accessible and affordable.
This point was made even as many residents nodded in agreement that the current Internet providers may lapse in delivering consistent and optimal service.
“We are committed towards a layout, granting licences and ensuring that data and bandwidth are available… People must be able to study and have access to internet. So, don’t be afraid to apply. Improvements are coming to the Information Communication Technology sector,” he said.

Minister Edghill noted that the administration has removed the value-added tax from data and has liberalised the communications sector through Commencement Orders to enforce the Telecommunications Act (2016) and the Public Utilities Commission Act (2016).

He added that these measures were taken because the government appreciates the importance of ICT- the driver of the GOAL programme.

Head of GOAL, Professor Jacob Opadeyi, who previously served as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana (UG), noted that upon successful graduation from the certificate, degree, postgraduate diploma, or master’s courses, students will not be directed to work in the Public Service.

Professor Opadeyi said the scholarship would allow citizens to work in either the public or private sector.
Moreover, he said graduates would not have their movement restricted by stamps in their passports, and that they will only be required to conduct a community service of their choice.

Additionally, Professor Opadeyi said while GOAL offers 85 programmes, of which 4,500 scholarships will be equally distributed across all 10 administrative regions this year, citizens can expect PhD programmes from January.
The Ministry of Education is responsible for administering the academic and technical aspects of GOAL, while the Ministry of Public Service is spearheading the award of the scholarships.

During the second phase of Monday’s launch at New Silvercity Secondary School, residents were eager to access GOAL services.
For petroleum engineering UG student, Aliyah Dey, who is eyeing the programme for postgraduate studies, GOAL “is a great opportunity for youngsters who don’t and also those who have education qualifications.”

Dey said persons should grab the opportunities through GOAL to develop the nation.
Meanwhile, an employee at the Regional Democratic Council of Region 10, Chisara James, said, “this is a good initiative that government is providing for young people because Linden really needs this.”

James expressed the view that many persons have completed school but lacked the opportunities to advance their education. She said the online programmes would minimise the fatigue and high costs of travelling to Region Four to further their studies.

Regional Executive Officer Dwight John and other officials and staff from both the Ministry of Public Service and the Ministry of Education attended the programme launch in Linden.
So far, the administration has secured partnerships with five academic institutions to deliver education through GOAL.

These are the University of the West Indies Open Campus (Barbados), the Indira Gandhi National Open University (India), the University of Applied Sciences (Germany), Jain University (India), and the University of the Southern Caribbean.