IT was prominent human and civil rights activists, Malcom X, who famously said that “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
For every parent, the education of their children at the highest level is their dream. Also every child aspires to do well in school. However, not every parent finds it easy to send their children to school. And this is because life, while filled with hope, is not divorced from challenges.
These challenges are wide-ranging and include becoming a single parent as a result of death or separation, loss in business or unforeseen weather events. These challenging circumstances could put a struggling single parent mother or farmer under immense pressure to send their children to school.
This cannot be more evident with families in situations where it is a matter of survival. The government has recognised the challenges that many parents face on a day-to-day basis and his been making concerted efforts to provide assistance to them.
One such assistance is the “Because We Care” cash grant, which it restored on assuming power in August 2020 and has since increased from $10,000 to $30,000 per child. Many would recall that the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) had discontinued the assistance to parents, claiming that it was unsustainable. It should be noted that while the “Because We Care” cash grant was discontinued by the former government, dietary spending by the same government for its officials and other events reached a new high.
In August 2020, many ordinary Guyanese, especially single parents breathed a sigh of relief when the good news was announced that the grant will be restored. Today, thanks to the government, the grant has not only been restored but it has also been extended to children in private schools.
And this is not even all of the good news. The government has promised to increase the grant from the current sun of $30,000 to $50,000 by 2025. The disbursement of the grant this year commenced on August 2 and for many parents throughout Guyana, it cannot be more welcomed news.
It is most welcomed because due to external events, namely COVID-19, the Russia-Ukraine war and the weather, the cost of living in Guyana, like many countries the world over, has increased.
The cash grant will go a very far way in easing the burden on parents to purchase necessary school items for their children so that they can attend school. Here is where every school aged child should be, rich or poor, because education is the bridge that can make their big dreams reality. For those who are poor, it is their salvation out of poverty and thanks to the government it is helping to make this process a reality.
Today, the prospect of a better life has never been brighter and it is important that every child pays keen attention or take his or her education seriously. Equally important is for parents to give their full support to their children’s education; Guyana needs their skills for her development and as Malcom X said, the preparation must begin today to ensure a better tomorrow.
The “Because We Care” cash grant is indeed a great help to parents and it is also a great effort by the government to fulfil a key manifesto promise. But this is not the only promise the government has fulfilled since coming to office two years ago. The children’s school uniform vouchers have also been increased from $2,500 to $5,000; old age pension has been increased by 40 per cent; some 20,000 scholarships have been made available to Guyanese, and this number could increase to 50,000; the end-of-year bonus for the Joint Services has been restored; VAT has been removed from water, electricity, machinery, agricultural inputs, among others; unjust D&I charges have been resolved and concessions have been granted to miners to make their operations more profitable and corporate tax on healthcare and education has been removed, among other interventions. The government has been serious about its manifesto promises and no doubt values education as it sees investment in education as an investment in the future, and for this reason, education at the University of Guyana is expected to be free before 2025.