-father of four says as ‘Because We Care’ initiative reaches Region 6
-elated parents plan to use grant to prepare for September school term
Overwhelmed by the harsh effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, massive flooding and the closure of sugar estates, the parents of school-aged children in Region Six have said that the ‘Because We Care’ cash grant will go a long away in preparing their children for the upcoming school term.
“It’s hard right now. The first thing I will do is ensure we buy up their stuff so when school open they have everything; I feel good that I don’t have to worry so much now because I know for sure they will have everything for school,” Chadradat Jugistee, a father of four said.
Jugisteer was among those who turned up at the Betsy Ground Primary School in East Canje for the activity. Over $420M will be distributed in the coming days to the parents of approximately 22, 000 school children from across the region. Similar activities have already been held in other regions.
Jugisteer, a cane harvester of Lot 7 Betsy Ground, East Canje, told the Guyana Chronicle that the grant comes at an opportune time since he has been thinking about how he will be able to purchase the necessary supplies for his children if or when school reopens in September.
In 2017, he was transferred to the Albion Sugar Estate following the closure of the Rose Hall Sugar Estate.
While noting that he was fortunate not to have lost his job, he said his financial situation has been unstable, especially during the out-of-crop season. The pandemic has made the situation even harder, he added.
According to Jugisteer, the cash grant will give him an ease and has taken a major burden “off the table.”
He, like many others, expressed gratitude to the government for the assistance.
Headteacher of Betsy Ground Primary School, Debra Ward, was elated. The single parent noted her struggles to prepare her son for the upcoming National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA).
Ward told the Guyana Chronicle that studying through the pandemic has been challenging, especially learning virtually. Nevertheless, she has tried her best, she said, before noting that the grant will be put toward the purchasing of a computer for her son. At the moment she does not have the entire amount but she stressed that such a device will become necessary when he begins his secondary education.
She expressed hope that the government can provide similar monetary assistance on a regular basis so that residents, especially single parents, can get help to adequately care for their children.
For Serojdai Deochand, a 41-year-old housewife of Gangaram Village, the grant will be a great help to her family. The mother of two told this publication that her husband who is the sole breadwinner has been working part-time in the construction industry following the closure of the Rose Hall Estate.
She said he was among the more than 1100 workers who were sent home.
“Whatever little he worked [for] we try with that. I try to assist by planting the garden at home. Without no income to maintain the home and the children, it’s hard, very hard. So now with this help it give we a relief cause remember if school open, it gonna be hard to find things especially during this COVID times. So now is one less worry,” she said.
Meanwhile, Senior Minister with Responsibility for Finance in the Office of the President, Dr.Ashni Singh, who was present at the activity, said that the grant will be a huge boost for the region’s economy.
“This grant will multiply itself over and over in the economy and generate economic activity. This represents not only an injection of $19,000 per child into the hands of the parent [but] it represents an injection of $420 M in the economy of Region 6 and an injection of $3.3 B into the economy of the country”, he said.
Every child attending school in Region 6 will receive the $15,000 cash grant along with a $4000 uniform voucher.
During his address to parents and educators, Dr. Singh said that the cash grant initiative was in keeping with the government’s commitment to provide an equal opportunity for everyone. He reiterated that the government will do its part by providing the schools, the curriculum, scholarships, the facilities and the cash grants, but the parents and learners have to seize every opportunity that is available.
“The future of your children will not be bright by magic. The future of your children would not be bright simply because the government built the schools or the government staff the school with teachers. The future of your children will be bright if you ensure your children go to school, if you ensure they do their homework, if you ensure you do their revisions to prepare for exams… So, we are moulding the future of Guyana and our government is firmly committed to doing what is necessary to create the opportunities but ensuring these opportunities are fully capitalised on. It is a responsibility that is shared by those in the education system and you the parents,” he said.
The distribution will continue today until Sunday. Several ministers will be at various schools in the region to witness the distribution exercise.