The government plans to allocate 20 per cent (or one-fifths) of the country’s national budget to expand and improve Guyana’s education sector, President Dr. Irfaan Ali told fellow world leaders on Monday.
The Guyanese Head of State, who chaired the first leaders’ roundtable on transforming education worldwide, also recommitted to making tertiary education in Guyana free by 2025.
This roundtable as part of the education summit kicks off the week of high-level events at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York.
It was conceptualised as a means of galvanising world leaders into much-needed action to help children recover from the learning losses experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The summit is also meant to encourage those leaders to get more children in schools.
President Ali acknowledged the learning losses experienced in Guyana because of longstanding gaps in access to education. The unequal access to online learning, for example, was a challenge he pointed out.
Though some efforts were instituted to help mitigate those challenges and losses, President Ali said his government will do more.
“As part of efforts to revamp the education system, the government will increase education expenditure to 20 per cent of the national budget and six percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) thereby ensuring adequate and sustainable financing for education,” he said.
President Dr. Irfaan Ali chaired the first leaders’ roundtable on transforming education worldwidE (Photo taken from Facebook)
When Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh presented this year’s national budget, a sum of $74.4 billion was allocated to the education sector. That means that the education sector got about 13.5 per cent of the $552.9 billion budget.
With this commitment to increase spending, President Ali noted that the government will also provide free tertiary education by 2025 too.
These efforts are all being pursued, the President said, because education is a “core element” of Guyana’s social transformation.
Already, the government has reintroduced a schoolchildren’s grant that sees cash being provided to each school child annually; in a matter of years, the amount provided should be $50,000 per child.
President Ali also related that the government has expanded a school’s feeding programme, where children are able to get free meals.
Aside from these supporting initiatives, he said that the education system is being transformed with a curriculum revision and the infusion of greater of more digital technologies.