Students of Wakenaam and Leguan Islands, Region Three, will now be able to travel to school in comfort and their parents will be relieved of transportation costs, following the handing over on Saturday of school buses valued close to $10 million.
This is the first time that these communities have benefitted from such a boost in the education sector. Wakenaam resident Tom Singh told the Department of Public Information (DPI) that he is thankful to the President Irfaan Ali-led Government and the regional administration for recognising the need for the vehicles and for delivering them.
Leguan Secondary School, Grade 11 student, Emonte Sahadeo, also thanked the government for providing the buses, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The school is far away from my home and so I would like to thank His Excellency Irfaan Ali for providing a bus for us, because not everyone has the luxury of a vehicle or money to pay transportation every day.”
She added that the bus will now “relieve the [financial] burden on our parents and also students can attend school more regularly, because due to the rainy weather, we have a hard time to come to school, so I think that this is a great opportunity for everyone to achieve a better education.”
Roshan Budhu, a student of Essequibo Islands Secondary School, said he is “grateful for the donation of this bus, as it will help those of the less fortunate to attend school, especially during the bad weather and those whose parents cannot afford to pay [a] taxi every day.”
Head of the Agriculture Department at the Leguan Secondary School, Virendra Chintamani, commended the government for undertaking this initiative since students’ tardiness has become an issue.
“We find here [in Leguan] daily that the students are coming to school about 15 to 20 minutes late and the reason for that is those residing in the far-flung areas are having a difficult time with their bicycles due to the mud on the road.”
“So, we have to accept that sometimes that when they are late that we cannot do anything about it and so the initiative with the donation of this bus would ease the burden of those students in the far-flung areas especially, the [transportation] cost,” he told DPI.
To this end, Chintamani urged the soon-to-be established management committee to overlook the school bus and craft a schedule that will enable the students living in the far-flung communities to be picked up promptly for school.
FULFILMENT OF COMMITMENT
Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall, said that presentation of the vehicles is a manifestation of the PPP/C Government’s commitment to the people, to ensure that equitable access to education is provided to all.
“Today, I think is the most important because we are contributing to the most important asset that someone can have and that is knowledge through education. Schools are very important, going to school is extremely important because I believe that as we progress in our community and our country, that is going to take us out of poverty — education.”
As such, the minister said that the regional administration will partner with the relevant officials to provide fuel, as well as the placement and salaries of the drivers for the buses.
However, he hopes that responsible adults are selected to carry out this duty, whilst prioritising those less fortunate to attend school.
“I will not tolerate incidences [sic] where we have drivers drinking and driving our children or even persons who don’t take their duty seriously; and so that I would encourage the regional administration to identify persons who understand their responsibility in the interest of the children,” the Local Government Minister said.
He also urged the students and teachers to care for the buses to ensure that others like themselves can benefit from them.
The minister also handed over two brush cutters to both of the islands’ beautification projects. One will be managed by the Wakenaam Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) and the other by the Leguan Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC).
It was noted that both islands are expected to benefit from significant investments aimed at enhancing their agriculture, education, health as well as road infrastructure via this year’s national budget.
Region Three Regional Executive Officer Jagnarine Somwar, Regional Chairman Ishan Ayube and other government officials were also present during the handing-over ceremony.