— parents react as distribution of ‘Because We Care’ in Region Three
SCORES of parents and teachers turned up at various locations across Region Three, on Monday, to not only receive the ‘Because We Care’ $19,000 education cash grant, but also to ensure the effective and efficient distribution of the grant.
Not only were parents elated to receive what they consensually described as a much-needed financial assistance, but teachers took it upon themselves to execute their “duty” and assist with the distribution exercise.
Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C. was in the region to kick start the exercise at various locations.
Overall, some 3,271 parents and/or guardians of learners enrolled at 12 academic institutions from Vergenoegen to Meten-Meer-Zorg were listed to receive some $62,149,000 aggregate in the form of the education cash grant, on Monday.
While the turn-out to receive the $19,000 cash grant ranked in the hundreds and if not more than a thousand at some locations – all COVID-19 guidelines were strictly adhered to, and mechanisms were ‘installed’ to ensure compliance with recommended measures to tackle the virus.
Noteworthy, at the Zeeburg Secondary School, there was even a “COVID-19 sanitising station” where persons who visited the premises were required to undergo a temperature test, utilising a digital thermometer attached at the station before walking through the sanitising point where they were thoroughly sprayed with sanitiser.
Headmaster of the Vergenoegen Secondary School, Gregory George, was optimistic that, given the “overwhelming” feedback he received from parents, he was confident that the parents will utilise the cash grant for the “best purpose of the children” , which he opined will inevitably benefit the family as a whole.
He said that the cash grant was a commendable initiative and lauded the government for “taking the people into consideration in this time” when the COVID-19 pandemic has plagued the world. He also commended the efforts by teachers of the school who voluntarily assisted with the distribution of the cash grant.
The Vergenoegen Secondary School covered not only that institution but also the Vergenoegen Nursery School, Sea View Nursery School and Philadelphia Primary School; some $13,984,000 was expected to be distributed to 736 parents and guardians of learners who attend those institutions.
Genica Winter, the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) representative for Vergenoegen Secondary School told this publication that the distribution exercise at the institution was organised in collaboration with the PTA to ensure the monies were distributed to every parent who turned up to receive same.
“At a time like this, I think it is timely. I felt good knowing that the government would have reached out to the children and it feels so good that they are able to give back towards the children and I trust that the parents make good use of the contribution the government would have made towards this initiative,” Winter said.
Shireen Francis, a parent of a grade three pupil who attends the Philadelphia Primary School, said “it will benefit myself and others because it will help to buy supplies … I want to say thanks to the Government for helping out the parents them and encourage them to do better so next year term the money can be increased for parents who cannot afford.”
The Meten-Meer-Zorg Primary School also facilitated the Jasso’s Nursery School, Meten-Meer Zorg Nursery School and the Exe’s Nursery School; some 562 beneficiaries were listed to receive the cash grant at that institution, which would result in an aggregate of some $10,678,000 being distributed.
Over at Zeeburg Secondary School, which also facilitated the distribution of the cash grants to persons who attend the Saraswat Primary School. Some 962 persons were expected to receive the grant, resulting in some $18,278,000 set to be distributed.
PTA Chair of Zeeburg Secondary School, Simone Ifill, a parent of a Grade 10 student opined that the cash grant was a “good idea” as she encouraged parents to use it wisely and allow the children to be the ultimate beneficiaries.
EASE OUR POCKETS
“It would ease our pockets somewhat. It would be $19,000 less coming out of my pockets to get him ready for school, so it comes in at a good time; I will be $19,000 richer because I will spend $19,000 less,” she told this publication
As the Chair of the PTA, she explained that teachers who were always ready and willing, and parents, who welcome the “timely intervention”, both played a collaborative role in order to ensure the exercise was properly executed.
Tuschen/Uitvlugt Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) Chairman, Ramzan Ali, also joined the lines to receive the cash grant for his only child. He explained that his child is at the Grade 11 level, hence he will be “putting aside” the $19,000 to pay for his child’s Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) examinations which were approaching.
“If they can increase it that would be very good, once they can sustain it. The important thing is to make sure each child in the school system and even the private school system can get because they are all our children,” he said.
Further, some 1,011 beneficiaries were expected to turn up at the Tuschen Primary School, which also covered the Tuschen Nursery School to receive the $19,000 cash grant, an aggregate of which would amount to some $19,209,000.
Rajkumari Narothan, a mother of two, explained that “the cash grant was a great help because if school opens in September you will get it to buy things because work is not available right now as much,” as she registered that while she was grateful for the “great relief” she hoped that in the following years it will be increased.
The Deputy Headmistress of Tuschen Primary School, Shoundel Lynch, also a parent of three pupils who are currently enrolled at the same institution, said “I think it’s a good initiative on the government’s behalf because at the end of the day we are living in a situation and crisis.”
“When it comes to school supplies the children are desperately in need since they were home for more than a year and many of them might not even have school clothes so this cash grant will go towards those stuff,” she added.
Lynch explained that 98 per cent of the school staff turned out to help with the exercise and the two persons absent were exempted because they were pregnant. She expressed that the teachers “were willing” and no one was forced to help, as the teachers themselves saw the need for children to receive the grant.
“We feel good about it, we didn’t have to beg anybody… they were all willing and they were eager to do what they are doing,” she said in relation to teachers assisting. On the other hand, she explained that parents called “in the middle of the night” out of excitement to gather information on the initiative.
Chitreka Chanderban, a Grade Six teacher at the Tuschen Primary School, and the mother of a Grade Six pupil herself, said the cash grant would specifically benefit the community of Tuschen as many parents within the locality work to “meet the day’s needs”.
“The cash grant is a great initiative; it’s going to assist those parents that are really in need. They are parents in this community that need that help and as a Grade Six teacher, I am seeing that; I have that knowledge of where they were in providing essentials so this cash grant will assist them,” she said.