– initiative kicks off in Reg 4 with over $1.1B to be distributed
– eligibility deadline extended
The Education Ministry has distributed over $1.7 billion in the “Because We Care” initiative since its commencement that is geared at cushioning the expenses attached to education for students in the public school system.
For Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), over $218 million has been handed out to parents and guardians; followed by $401 million in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), another $195 million in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), $400 million in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), $173 million in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and $211 million for Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).
For Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), some $517 million is set aside for Georgetown and another $639 million for the East Coast and East Bank of Demerara. Friday was the first day of distribution for the region, which saw over $146 million being delivered to parents.
This exercise will continue throughout the regions until the entire country is covered. This initiative will see $3.2 billion being expended to assist students within the public school system.
Along with the grant which is valued at $15,000, students will also receive the school uniform and supplies grant valued at $4000. This gives a total of $19,000 for each child. Approximately 172,000 students are expected to benefit from this programme, and unlike last year, the school uniform grant will not be given in the form of a voucher but rather as cash.
Government has committed to increasing the “Because We Care” cash grant incrementally each year until it reaches $50,000. The school uniform and supplies grant was increased last year from $2000 to $4000, representing a 100 per cent increase.
The “Because We Care” project was launched back in 2014 by then Education Minister Priya Manickchand and was issued to parents for each child in the public school system. It was implemented with the aim of providing support to parents with school age children and increasing their disposable income, with a view to raising enrolment and attendance rates.
However, after taking office in 2015, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government scrapped the project and displaced thousands of students and parents. The Irfaan Ali-led People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government reintroduced the initiative after taking office last year.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Priya Manickchand has announced that the eligibility deadline for qualifying new entrants into the public education system for the Government of Guyana’s “Because We Care” cash grant has been extended to July 31, 2021.
At the beginning of the distribution of the cash grant, parents or guardians of students who are now entering the public school system would have had to apply for entry on or before June 30, 2021. But Minister Manickchand said that the date has been extended and this will result in an additional 3300 students being able to benefit from the grant.
Over the last two days, Minister Manickchand has been spearheading the distribution of the grant in Region Four on the East Coast of Demerara. The scheduled distribution in the region will end on Monday, August 9, 2021, with over $600 million being transferred from the State to families in the region.
While at the Swami Purnananda Primary, the Enmore Hope Primary and the Paradise Primary Schools, she told parents that though the grant cannot cater to all the needs of their children, it is still solid assistance to parents as they invest in the education of their children. Minister Manickchand also explained that the grant is not only for educational items but that it can be used to purchase items that serve children and support them as they continue along their academic journey.
As it relates to the reopening of schools, Minister Manickchand said that the Ministry is certain that the best way to deliver education at this time is to have children return to the classroom for face-to-face teaching and learning but noted that this is highly dependent on the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
She told teachers and parents that if they are among those persons who have not taken the COVID-19 vaccine then they are in the way of schools reopening for face-to-face learning. She said that the percentage of vaccinated persons in Guyana needs to increase before children are allowed back into the classroom.
Minister Manickchand encouraged teachers to go and get vaccinated while it is free and available, as she said, “Because we need to make sure that we can get back into the classroom because the other types of education, I am warning, I am cautioning, I am inviting you to look at it, are not working. And it is not the teachers that will suffer, it is these children you want to see shine.”