…“we will serve you and we will serve you equitably”
The Government on Wednesday rolled out the “Because We Care” cash grant initiative in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), where Education Minister Priya Manickchand said that the $19,000 in cash which will be provided per child will be helpful to parents who have been facing difficulties in providing for their children owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking with parents during the launch at the Cotton Field Secondary School, Essequibo Coast, Minister Manickchand explained that in addition to the $15,000 cash grant, each child in the public education system would receive a $4000 School Uniform and Supplies grant, which was formerly done as a voucher, thus, the total of $19,000.
The Education Minister went on to say that they would not specify how parents should spend the monies. She emphasised that the grants belonged to the students and it was the decision of parents as to how they should spend to provide for their children’s needs.
“It is the Ministry’s promise to ensure that students are taken care of during the pandemic and for us to ensure that students received quality education at this point of time… It is understood that some parents do not afford to get their children to attend extra classes… So, this is a start for parents who face difficulties in providing essential materials for their children’s schooling,” said Manickchand.
Meanwhile, over at the Anna Regina Secondary School, the Minister stated that this past year has been difficult for Guyana and its education sector. She spoke of the various interventions the Ministry has had to undertake to deliver education to children in ways that were never done before.
However, Manickchand posited that while these initiatives were helpful, they were not as effective as having children in the classroom in front of a teacher. She said that this has been proven by the worrying results recorded in the two recent National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) mock examinations.
She noted that the Ministry also learnt that there were weaknesses in some homes that contributed to the results of the mock examinations. It was explained by the Minister that the best performing children in the education sector were those who have the necessary support at home.
To this end, the Education Minister outlined that children needed to get back into schools, but this could only be done if it was safe. As such, she encouraged parents and teachers to take the COVID-19 vaccines that are available for adults. Further, she said that the Government was looking to procure the Pfizer vaccine that has been approved in the United States of America to be used by students from ages 12 to 17.
Moreover, Manickchand told parents that with Wednesday’s launch, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government was delivering on another manifesto promise of reintroducing the cash grant initiative that was made to students and parents by the PPP/C. She also reassured that this initiative would be equitably rolled out.
“I will never serve you in a partisan way. Your children will get the same type of service that the next child will get. You must remember that about us. We will serve you and we will serve you equitably,” she stated.
The Education Ministry also reminded parents that the “Because We Care” cash grant will increase from $15,000 incrementally each year until it reaches $50,000 by the end of Government’s five-year term in office.
Meanwhile, Local Government and Regional Development Minister Nigel Dharamlall was also in Region Two and facilitated the disbursement of the cash grant to parents within Zorg and Adventure nursery, primary and secondary schools on the Essequibo Coast.
Dharamlall stated that the Government of Guyana has invested billions of dollars to ensure that thousands of students in Region Two have quality education.
“We need to see a major transformation in Essequibo as part of the educational development, because education is the means of getting us out of poverty… So, with this investment being made, it will assist teachers as well as students to feel more comfortable in the learning environment,” the Minister noted.
Additionally, Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat was also in the region to assist with the distribution of the “Because We Care” cash grants.
One of the parents who were a recipient of the cash grant, Reshma Singh, related that she was satisfied with the grant received from the Government. Singh noted that she was especially thankful for the cash grant at this time, since she would be able to purchase the main necessities for her children.
Over $224 million is scheduled to be distributed in Region Two this week to over 11,000 students. The launch commenced at the Cotton Field Secondary School, where 492 students are registered.
Other schools served on Wednesday included the Fisher Primary School, where grants were distributed to parents of children attending that school, along with those from the Fisher Nursery, Abram Zuil Nursery and Abram Zuil Secondary Schools, representing 814 grants with a collective value of over $15 million.
Students from Taymouth Manor Primary, Suddie Primary, Riverstown Primary, Aurora Primary, Lima Sands Primary, Mainstay Lake Primary, Tapakuma Lake Primary, Onderneeming Nursery, and St Monica Primary School also received their grants.