DISTRIBUTION of the $15,000 per child “Because we Care” cash grant and $4,000 uniform voucher to learners in the private school system will commence today, with the first stop in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara).
The roll-out will take place at a total of 17 schools in that region, beginning from 08:30hrs at the Little Angels Nursery School and Academy of Intellectual Minds.
The full distribution schedule, which includes the schools and distribution hours, was posted on the Ministry of Education’s social media pages.
Parents are reminded that they are required to walk with a form of identifications to uplift the grant.
The commencement of the distribution to the private school parents comes just one week after President Dr. Irfaan Ali announced that the welfare initiative will be extended to parents with children in private schools. The programme originally catered only to parents with children in public schools.
Approximately 17,000 learners in private schools are expected to benefit, with a further $320 million being injected into the programme.
For many parents with learners in private schools, the announcement by President Ali was a relief.
Parents said that though some persons opined that parents with children in private schools do not need assistance if they could afford private education, this could not be further from the reality of what such parents face.
“Not because I send my children to a private school means that I am better off. It’s not because I am rich, it’s the sacrifice I am willing to make for my children,” Anjanie Ramroop-Silva commented.
Ramroop-Silva has two primary school aged children attending a private school in the city.
“I too have my struggles financially and to an extent emotionally, because I constantly worry about my children’s education and their well-being. We still have to pay fees, and it’s not easy, although we [herself and her husband] are both working, the bills add up,” she said.
She said that her choice to send her children to a private school largely had to do with her deep concern for her children’s welfare, and a need for after-care services.
“I went to public school and this time is not like long ago. I would have liked to put them in public school, but I was told they would be placed according to my address and my village is not safe,” she said.
The mother added: “Plus, I didn’t have anyone to pick them up on time after school or to stay with them at home. So, it is beneficial for us because we knew that they were in safe hands and not left unattended in the school compound like how it would be in public schools.”
The current school her children attend is the second private school they have attended, as she had to transfer her children to a more affordable school because of challenges with meeting the obligations.
“We had no choice but to transfer them. Thankfully, the new school follows the ministry’s curriculum, and also provides after care,” she said.
She plans to use the money from the grant to purchase textbooks and stationery for her children. Her list of supplies came up to over $30,000. So, she is glad to see the grant extended to cover her.
Started in 2014, the “Because We Care” cash grant was issued to parents for each child in school. It was geared at increasing enrollment and attendance in public schools and reducing the dropout rate.
Under the programme, $10,000 was initially given out for each child, but this was later discontinued by the APNU+AFC government.
INCREASED AND RESTORED
With the change in administration, the grant was restored and increased to $15,000. And in addition to this, parents also benefit from a $4,000 per child “uniform voucher” that can also be used to purchase supplies for learners.
With a young son in nursery school, Trinette Forde was also among those parents who were elated to see the grants being extended to private school learners.
Like Ramroop-Silva, she said that notwithstanding making the sacrifice, parents with children in private schools are facing the same economic circumstances as the rest of the economy.
“I’m glad… I was hoping they would have extended it to private schools. Times are really hard and all parents are in need of assistance. It will come in very handy for my son,” Forde related.
In an interview with this publication, a mother of three, Anitra Nauth, also conveyed her joy at knowing that she will be receiving assistance for her children’s education. She has three children who go to private schools on the West Coast of Demerara, so she will be among the first parents to receive the cash grants.
“It was such a relief hearing that the grant was extended to the private school children as well. This will help lessen our burden of school expenses. I plan to use the cash grant to purchase text books for our kids as well as help purchase school supplies,” Nauth said.
She too denounced the views that private school learners should not benefit from government assistance.