The Honourable Minister of Education Priya Manickchand has pledged to serve every student as the Ministry on Wednesday commenced its distribution of the "Because We Care" Cash Grant in Region Two.
“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 told parents, teachers and students gathered at the Anna Regina Secondary School on Wednesday morning.
The programme commenced at the Cotton Field Secondary School where 492 students are registered.
She reminded parents that the Because We Care cash grant will increase from $15,000 incrementally each year until it reaches $50,000 within the Government's first five years in office. This year, in addition to the $15,000 children received $4000 from the School Uniform and Supplies cash grant which was formerly done as a voucher. Combined, each child in the public school system will receive $19,000 this year.
Over $224M is scheduled to be distributed in Region Two this week to over 11,000 students. The Honourable Minister told parents at the school today that the Government is confident that they will use the grant for the benefit of their children.
Minister Manickchand told parents that the grant is the Government's way of helping parents of children in the public school system.
She said that the past year has been difficult for Guyana and its education sector. She said that the COVID-19 pandemic caused education to be delivered to children in a manner that was never done before.
To ensure that learning continued while schools remained closed, she said that after coming into office in August last year, the Guyana Learning Channel was refashioned so that students from any grade could be taught through the channel using the timetabled airing of lessons on the topics that they should have been doing if they were physically in school.
Also, she said that worksheets were printed and distributed while learning packages were prepared and distributed to help Grade Six students prepare for the National Grade Six Assessment.
However, despite these efforts along with many other interventions, the Education Minister said that though these initiatives are helpful, they are 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 NGSA mock examinations.
She added that the Ministry also learnt that there are weaknesses in some homes that contributed to the results of the mock examinations. She said that the best performing children in the education sector are those that have the necessary support at home.
Minister Manickchand told parents today that the Government of Guyana trusts parents to provide for their children. She said that through this grant, the Government is helping parents to do just that.
She said that the Government is not limiting parents to how they should use the grant specifically but encouraged that whatever it is used for, benefits the children and their education. Minister Manickchand explained that the $19,000 can be used to purchase any item or to complete any project that will serve the best interest of children.
“This grant is for the parents of this country to decide how they will spend it on their children and what they will spend it on,” Minister Manickchand remarked.
Further, she said that the nation’s children need to get back into schools but only if it is safe. She encouraged parents and teachers to go and take the COVID-19 vaccine that is available for adults. Further, she said that the Government is looking to have a shipment of the Pfizer vaccine delivered to Guyana that has been approved in the United States of America to be used by students from ages 12 to 17.
During today’s distribution exercises across the region, fact sheets on the vaccine were distributed to parents and students to inform them of its benefits, side effects and how it can protect us all.
Minister Manickchand also expressed deep thanks to the headmasters and teachers across Region Two who came out to participate in the distribution exercise today and those that will continue to play a role over the next two days.
Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat and Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Nigel Dharamlall were also present for the launch of the cash grant program in Region Two today.
They both visited several schools across the Region to spearhead the distribution exercise.
Other schools served on Wednesday included the Fisher Primary School where 814 grants were distributed to children attending the Abrams Zuil Secondary, Fisher Nursery, Fisher Primary and Abrams Zuil Nursery School were distributed to parents at the venue representing a collective value of over $15M.
Taymouth Manor Primary School, Suddie Primary, Riverstown Primary, Aurora Primary, Lima Sands, Mainstay Lake Primary, Tapakuma Lake Primary, Onderneeming Nursery and St Monica Primary School.