— shows govt’s commitment to human development, says Harmon
MINISTER of State Joseph Harmon on Saturday said the increase in the number of government scholarships awarded since taking office in May 2015, is evidence of the government’s commitment to national development and the eradication of poverty and ignorance.
Minister Harmon, who was at the time speaking at an orientation session for awardees of government scholarships, held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC), said the government’s budgetary allocation to the education sector is also commitment to the education sector.
Scholarships have increased from 464 for the period 2011 to 2014 under the former administration, to 1,251 between 2015 and 2018 while the current allocation to the education sector is over $52B.
Minister Harmon said the David Granger-led administration, since taking office, has placed education at the top of its developmental agenda, since it was recognised that there was a shortage of trained personnel in almost every field, while pointing to the disparity in the provision of public services.
In recognition of the deficiencies within the public service, Minister Harmon said, the government took a conscious decision to focus heavily on education.
“Our commitment to education development and training was reflected in the allocations for education in national budgets from 2015 to date, which has increased constantly and incrementally from $33 billion in 2015 to $52.2 billion in 2019. President David Granger, then Opposition Leader, while speaking about the opportunities for development that were available in an address to graduates of the Cyril Potter College in 2012, said that those opportunities can be achieved only by people with a first-class education.
“We, therefore, upon our assumption of office in May 2015, committed to a programme of continued and continuous training, to provide adequate and suitable manpower resources at all levels, to complement the legislative and administrative changes being made to encourage capital investments and to create an enabling environment for sustainable development,” he said.
The minister of state said that it is against this background that the National Scholarships Programme should be viewed. In addition to local scholarships, the Government of Guyana has continued to provide awardees with opportunities to study in the United Kingdom, United States, Japan, China, Cuba, Russia, Canada, India and Mexico. These awards have increased significantly over the years, as the period 2015 to 2018 saw 316 overseas scholarships being awarded as against 191 for 2011 to 2014.
FAIR AND TRANSPARENT
In addition to the increases in scholarship awards, measures have been taken to make the process of selection fairer, transparent and relevant with the appointment of a Scholarship Awards Committee within the Department of Public Service. That committee is responsible for interviewing and recommending applicants based on merit.
“This year, there are 47 awards for the Guyana School of Agriculture and 167 for the University of Guyana. You represent the best of those who applied for scholarships, since the system now in place for selection of scholarship awardees is transparent and meritocratic. Scholarship awards since 2015 has to be viewed within the context of our government’s policy on education and our regard for the education sector. There can be no doubt about our government’s commitment to the education and training of our young and not so young people,” Minister Harmon said.
URGENT AND IMPORTANT
He continued: “This has become even more urgent and important since we have at this time, another opportunity to embark on a programme of positive social and economic development throughout our country, an opportunity that is in my view, better than all of those that have been available in the past. Guyana is on the cusp of becoming a major oil and gas producing nation, with first oil expected in early 2020. However, this rapid
development would only become a reality if we have the requisite manpower skills, both in quality and numbers, to guide the process and implement our development programmes. These scholarship awards therefore represent an investment in the future of our country, a future where we are the architects and controllers of our nation’s development and the realisation of the Green State Development Strategy: Vision 2040.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Public Service, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine congratulated the awardees while urging them to put the government’s investment to good use. Dr. Roopnaraine said the government will continue to invest in the education sector so that every Guyanese can have access to higher learning.
“John Dewey said, ‘Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself’. We, who represent the Government of Guyana, believe in this quote and as a result you are here today. The Department of Public Service has responsibility for human resource
development in the public sector, and more specifically, in the public service. An integral part of its operations in this regard, is the administration of scholarships. The department offers this service to all eligible Guyanese without reference to any discriminatory factors such as ethnicity, religion, gender or political persuasion. The department also seeks to deliver its services in an accessible form and in a client friendly and good governance environment. We will leave no stone unturned to expose you to the best possible training and exposure so that you can shape your career and growth,” he said.
Technical adviser to the Minister of Public Service, Vincent Alexander, urged the awardees to pursue a well-rounded life at the university through formal and informal education. He noted that education is the only means of eliminating ignorance and this is a life-changing opportunity offered by the government.
Meanwhile, Cosbert Carmichael, a student at the Guyana School of Agriculture, who hails from Upper Takutu- Upper Essequibo (Region Nine), expressed gratitude for his scholarship. He noted that being awarded the government scholarship has significantly eased the financial burden on his single mother.
“Studying is not easy; it comes with a lot of sacrifice. I am from Lethem and my mom is unable to pay my tuition fee, so this scholarship has reduced the cost of her paying for me. So this is helping her while helping me to contribute to the society at the same time,” he shared.
The session was also attended by Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Professor Ivelaw Griffith and Registrar of the same institution, Nigel Gravesande.