Education’s ‘paramount priority’ on government’s agenda
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Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C., along with Government Member of Parliament and representative for Region Five, Faizal Jafferally opening one of the boxes containing the cash grant
Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C., along with Government Member of Parliament and representative for Region Five, Faizal Jafferally opening one of the boxes containing the cash grant

–investment in this sector can never be a waste of time, says Min. Nandlall

EDUCATING the nation is of “paramount priority” to the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) government, as the administration views education as a vehicle to transport Guyanese out of a cycle of poverty. Investment in the education of the nation’s children will never be a waste of time, said Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C., during a visit to Rosignol Secondary and Blairmont Primary Schools, both located in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), as part of the distribution of the ‘Because We Care’ education cash grant on Tuesday.

Regional Education Officer, Deon Lyn Lewis-Clarke

“We as Guyanese, we come from poverty. All of us, whether we came here as slaves, or whether we came here as indentured servants, we came here in abject poverty,” Minister Nandlall said. “Over the years, one thing has assured us an exit from that cycle of poverty, and that thing has been education,” he added.
He recalled that many of the success stories that would have come out of communities such as Blairmont, originally a plantation village, is because the people who live there would have equipped themselves with the requisite knowledge and qualifications to escape the cycle of poverty.
“The medium through which those persons would have been elevated would have been through education; it is the real and only way of being empowered, and our government understands that, and that is why we are investing so heavily in our education sector,” Minister Nandlall said.

The Attorney-General explained that the PPP/C Government views human resources as the most important component of a society, and that it for this very reason that every budget and policy it has tabled since 1992 is aimed at enhancing and improving the lives and welfare of the Guyanese people, specifically its young people.

“You are witnessing, or you are participating in another initiative in which we are demonstrating, in the most manifested and palpable way, our commitment to our young people, and the education of our young people in our country,” he told those parents gathered to receive the $19,000 per child grant on behalf of their children.

Anita Robertson

Nandlall highlighted that the education cash grant is not in isolation, as it complements the series of other measures the PPP/C administration has implemented and plans on undertaking, all of which are intended to alleviate the suffering of the Guyanese people.

Pulmattie Parag

One such initiative is the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL) scholarships, which saw some 8,800 persons applying for one of the many qualifications offered through the initiative, which is geared to equip as much persons as possible with a certificate qualification which they can use to prepare themselves for the oil boom and the gamut of opportunities which will arise from the industry.

“You can have a piece of paper that says that you’re qualified for the new jobs that will be created when our economic boom takes place, and that’s coming. That’s coming but we want you to be equipped, we want you to be qualified and all of this is an investment in our country’s future,” Nandlall said.

The Attorney-General highlighted that the government is embarking on the cash grant initiative amidst one of the worst known pandemics in living memory, the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as when the country is battling one of its national disasters, in the form of flooding.

“The economy is terribly affected by these events yet we are able to make this kind of money, and cash payout available to our people. How are we able to do it? We are able to do it simply by stopping the corruption that used to take place, by stopping the squandermania that used to take place and by prudently managing our economy, that’s all we’re doing,” he said.

Against that background, Nandlall pleaded with the parents and guardians who received the cash grant to spend it on their children’s educational needs, which it is intended for. He added that the grant will eventually, in an incremental manner, be increased to the sum of $50,000.

“Others are criticising us that we are wasting money, how? How is investing in our young people’s education can ever be a waste of money? When they had an opportunity they gave you not one dollar! We are giving you $19,000 and they are criticising,” Nandlall said.

“As responsible leaders, one would have expected them to call upon us to raise it to $20,000 or $25,000; they are not saying that, they are saying that it is a waste of time. I ask you to ignore them and to receive your cash grant and use it for the betterment of your children’s welfare,” he added.

Ravendra Richmangal

Speaking to the Guyana Chronicle, Pulmattie Parag, of Blairmonth Village, a parent of six nursery and primary school children, explained that she is “thankful” for the cash grant, which will help to offset some of her expenses as she intends to purchase sanitisers, gloves, masks and schools supplies for her children in preparation for the reopening of schools.

Anita Robertson, of Ithaca Village and a mother of three, told this publication that as a stay-at-home mother, she applauds the initiative, which will not only benefit her “real good”, but also her peers, who are parents and are not working at the moment.

Azeer Hussain, a father of three, shared similar sentiments. He explained that currently, he is without access to running water, as his supply was recently disconnected; however, personal finances which he would have had to expend on his children can be diverted to deal with that issue, as the cash grant is now available.

A teacher attached to the Blairmont Primary School, Ravendra Richmangal told this publication that as a teacher he believes the cash grant is a timely initiative as students are in need of the disposable incomes. He advised that parents use the money to purchase devices which may facilitate online learning since most schools have free wireless Internet connections.

In terms of assisting with the distribution of the cash grant, Richmangal said, “I have no problem coming out, and I can speak for my colleagues as well, they are all happy to be here and do be doing what we are doing.”

Regional Education Officer (REDO), Deon Lyn Lewis Clarke told this publication that the initiative commenced in Region Five on Sunday, July 18, 2021, in the depths of the region at Mahaicony creek and was wrapped up on the coast on Tuesday.

She explained that for Monday, just one of the three days during the distribution process, of 23 schools that were targeted, some 14 schools were able to meet a 100 per cent distribution rate, with others ranging in the 90s.

“Overall for the two days we had a few glitches but we were able to address those with the support of the auditors, the security and the other officers within the department of education,” Clarke said as he extended heartfelt gratitude to her team at the Department of Education, Region Five and everyone, especially teachers, who worked “collaboratively” to executive the initiative.

“I would also want to say a big thank you to the Minister of Education and Government of Guyana and I want to put a big thank you for my staff, if it wasn’t for them we could not have rolled out three days of good work and I think we need to applaud ourselves, we did an awesome job and I think the staff must be commended.”

Government Member of Parliament and representative for Region Five, Faizal Jafferally, was also present at the distribution exercise. He expressed that he was “delighted at the tremendous response of parents recognising the need and the importance of this help”.

“I also want to thank the teachers of Region Five who came out to assist with the initiative going against what McDonald would have said. Teachers are volunteering across Region Five. We are working until the last parent comes to the school and receive his or her cash grant,” he said.

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