The $186M tertiary Hinterland Student Dormitory at Liliendaal, East Coast of Demerara (ECD) was officially commissioned, providing students from those far-flung communities with a safe space while pursuing their tertiary education.
The facility, which was dedicated by the Right Reverend, Bishop Charles Davidson, will cater for 120 students attending the University of Guyana (UG), Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE), the Government Technical Institute (GTI), Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA) and the Carnegie School of Home Economics (CSHE) among other tertiary institutions in and around Georgetown.
His Excellency, President David Granger said that the facility demonstrates the government’s commitment to improving educational opportunities for hinterland students.
“Government, through the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs has done well to make this facility available. It will ensure a conducive environment for hinterland students attending the University of Guyana and other tertiary institutions. I look forward to the day when every regional capital town – Anna Regina, Bartica, Lethem, Mabaruma and Mahdia – will establish a first-class college to enable hinterland students to enjoy the best secondary and, later, tertiary education within their communities. That day will come.”
The president emphasised that education is a right which can be realised only if every child has access to primary and secondary education; attends school and attains the ultimate objectives of education by completing his or her schooling.
The Head of State added that Guyana’s education policy emphasises the three ‘A’s – Access, Attendance and Attainment. This means that every child must be assured of access to school; must be enabled to attend school and be equipped with the knowledge to attain a satisfactory standard of education. Opening the dormitory, he said added a fourth ‘A’ – accommodation.
“Accommodation is being improved by the provision of accommodation for students. Dormitories have been constructed at 19 locations in nine regions. These dormitories allow more hinterland students to benefit from educational services.”
The president announced that more than $170Billion has been expended on education over the past four years. Spending in the sector has moved from 14.8% of the National Budget in 2014, to 17% in 2017.
Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Hon. Sydney Allicock explained that the initiative formed part of the 10-point plan for hinterland development which focuses on a support programme for the education of hinterland students.
“We had the plan ever since we came into office and we have been able to work with this plan, and we are now seeing the fruits of that wonderful concept.”
According to Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Hon. Valerie Garrido-Lowe, the actualisation of this long-awaited facility, will create an academic and vocational revolution in the hinterland.
“This is not just a building. It is a vessel – an opening –that will allow for the economic and social transformation of Indigenous communities by Indigenous and hinterland people, across Guyana… This is testimony to the fact that your government is committed to creating a “real-time” development environment for our people, thereby departing from the past trend of giving “handouts” and making us independent instead.”
With oil proceeds imminent, Minister Garrido-Lowe noted that Guyana’s economy will be stimulated, and more industries will be required to service the needs of the country. Therefore, expertise and knowledge will be needed as jobs will be made available, all be it, on a more competitive basis.
“We recognise that our communities need more input and expertise. We need more educators, health workers, civil engineers, geologists, botanists, anthropologists, professional agriculturists, food scientists, and businesspeople. We need to nurture and develop professions that will push the Green State Development Strategy into actuality.”
Minister of Education, Hon. Dr. Nicolette Henry noted that today’s commissioning marks another milestone for the education sector in Guyana.
“We know that the construction of a tertiary dormitory is not to be taken lightly this dormitory will provide tremendous opportunities for those students whose geographic location limited their chances of pursuing their dreams of higher education.”
The Hinterland Scholarship Programme, ICT hubs, smart classrooms, curriculum reform, President Granger’s 5 Bs initiative, and improved performances at examinations, assessments and tests will catapult Guyana into prosperity, Minister Henry noted.
The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs has increased the number of hinterland scholarships from 120 in 2014 t0 186 in 2018. Hinterland students have also benefitted from 1,599 tertiary-level scholarships offered by the Department of the Public Service since 2015.
Also, in attendance at the commissioning were Minister of State, Hon. Dawn Hastings-Williams, Minister of Social Cohesion, Hon. Dr. George Norton, Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Hon. Keith Scott, Member of Parliament, Hon. Mervyn Williams, Managing Director of the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI), Dr. Richard Van West-Charles and Deputy Mayor of Georgetown, Alfred Mentor as well as several members of the diplomatic corps.