–additional $320M to be expended, says President Ali
THE approximately 17,000 learners in the private school system will now benefit from the $15,000 “Because We Care” cash grant and the $4,000 uniform grant, following an announcement by President Dr. Irfaan Ali, on Thursday, that the grant has been extended to parents with children in private schools.
Through this extension, another $320 million will be given out to the parents, and it will add to the $3.3 billion already distributed to the parents of the more than 175,000 learners attending public schools.
“The initiative was originally only applicable to parents of children in the public school system, but a number of parents from private schools had asked for the programme to be extended to their children. After consultation, a favourable decision was made,” a statement from the President’s Office noted.
The “Because We Care” programme is a welfare initiative geared at providing support for parents in procuring school supplies, and part of a wider initiative by the government to address school dropouts.
The programme, which is a brainchild of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), enjoyed widespread popularity over the years, with parents receiving $10,000 each year until it was discontinued by the APNU+AFC while they were in office from 2015.
It has since been restarted by the new PPP/C government, with higher sums being disbursed.
Speaking with the Guyana Chronicle following the announcement of the extension, Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, said she is overjoyed since more persons will benefit.
She said: “The private school children are Guyanese children. I am very happy to serve them however we can. We already do through very many different agencies, sharing of curriculum and training and so on.”
Following the re-commencement of the grant initiative in August, parents with learners in private schools lobbied for the benefits to be extended to them as well, given that they also, at times, face difficult circumstances.
“We were acutely aware of the very heavy call of private school parents… this is something they wanted. As you know, this is a very responsive and responsible government, so we have responded by extending this to private schools, which is something we have always wanted to do. I am very, very happy about this and pleased that we are answering the call of parents and that is how we operate,” Minister Manickchand related.
She also noted that the distribution of the grant to learners in private schools will also face thorough scrutiny, as was the case during the distribution of the grant to learners in public schools. During this exercise, auditors from the Audit Office of Guyana monitored the distribution.
“This is going to be scrutinised and audited in the same way that public schools were scrutinised and audited.
There will be the same requirements. The child will have to be on the register of the school and the parent will have to turn up,” Minister Manickchand said.