— as date to qualify for education cash grant extended
An additional 3,300 children who have transitioned into the public education system will be able to benefit from the ‘Because We Care’ education cash grant as the Ministry of Education has extended the ‘cut-off’ deadline used to determine the eligibility of new public school entrants to access the grant.
Initially, the ministry had established a ‘cut off’ date set for June 30, 2021, which served as a deadline to determine the number of new public school entrants who would qualify for the grant; the beneficiaries were to be enrolled in a public school before that date.
However, cognisant that some parents and guardians who have missed the June 30 deadline will therefore be ineligible to access the grant, Education Minister, Priya Manickchand, on Saturday, announced that the deadline will be extended to July 31, 2021 to accommodate those persons, enabling some 3,300 more students to benefit.
The Education Minister made the remarks while spearheading the distribution of the $19,000 cash grant at various schools across the East Coast of Demerara on Friday and Saturday last.
During her visits, the minister acknowledged 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.
She urged parents and guardians to utilise the grant to fund their children’s educational needs but also noted that the grant may be used to purchase not only strictly educational items but items that serve children and support them as they continue along their academic journey.
Manickchand reminded that the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Government, as part of their manifesto, promised to restore the cash grant and that promise is presently being fulfilled.
She also promised that the grant will increase to $50,000 per child within the administration’s first term in in office.
Overall $3.2 billion was set aside for distribution to some 172,000 pupils and students within Guyana’s public school system. As part of the programme, each child will receive a grant of $15,000, which will be added to the existing School Uniform and Supplies Grant of $4,000, bringing the total to $19,000 per child.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the recent unprecedented floods, the government had recognised the challenges and constraints faced by parents and guardians of school-aged children, and wanted to ensure that struggling families receive some needed assistance.
As a result, the administration has moved to reinstate the grant which was initiated by the PPP/C Government prior to it demitting office in 2015. However, when the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) administration assumed leadership of the country, the programme was quashed.
When the PPP/C returned to office in August 2020, the programme was reinstated and the sum allocated to parents also increased. This move was heavily criticised by some members of the main APNU+AFC opposition, who went as far as to host a picketing demonstration outside of the Ministry of Education office on Brickdam, Georgetown.
As it relates to the reopening of schools, Manickchand said the ministry is certain that the best way to deliver education is through face-to-face learning.
The Education Minister enlightened that based on the ministry’s observations as it relates to the performance of students at the various levels, it is necessary to reopen schools.
The reopening of schools; however, depends entirely on the country’s COVID-19 vaccination rate which needs to be increased to allow students to re-enter the classrooms, she said.
She told teachers and parents that if they are among those persons who have not yet taken their COVID-19 vaccine, then they are hindering the reopening of schools for in-person learning.
As the distribution of the cash grant continues across Guyana, vaccination stations will be established as far as is possible to give parents and teachers the opportunity to be vaccinated; however, it is not a requirement for parents to be vaccinated to access the grant.
Manickchand encouraged teachers to go and get vaccinated while it is free and available, “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,” she said.
She said that with more persons getting vaccinated, the likelihood of the spread of the virus will significantly reduce.
The minister promised that once schools reopen, parents, teachers and students will see a difference in the way education is delivered.