The PPP/C Administration remains committed to its efforts to ensure that every Guyanese has access to opportunities for growth.
The government allocated $74.4 billion for the nation’s educational system, with a focus on ensuring that all citizens have access to high-quality education, which caters for restructuring the school curriculum, expanding teachers’ training programmes, constructing new schools, and establishing robust systems, among others.
This allocation is in keeping with the government’s five-year Education Strategic Plan (ESP) 2021-2025-Vision 2030.
To ensure that the populace maintains its level of education, the Ministry of Education in particular has implemented several measures.
According to the Finance Ministry’s 2022 mid-year report, “At the half year, the sum of $32.2 billion was expended towards the realisation of this goal.”
Because We Care cash grant
A key promise of the government was the restoration of the “Because We Care” cash grant to students. This initiative was reintroduced and improved.
The government provided financial assistance to school children in the form of the Because We Care cash grant to improve attendance and lower school dropout rates.
While the previous grant in 2014 was $10,000, the government increased it to $15,000 per child. The uniform allowance was also increased from $2,000 to $4,000 per child. This means that every child registered in the public school system received $19,000 last year which has now increased to $30,000 this year.
Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand underlined that the government and the Ministry of Education want to ensure that as far as possible, parents are given a helping hand which will go towards the success of their children.
This is coupled with the introduction of several smart classrooms to improve the delivery of education.
Education and Information and Communications Technology
Efforts to incorporate Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the education sector resulted in the procurement of 3,750 tablets for delivery by September 2022.
An additional 7,250 tablets are expected to be delivered by the last quarter, accomplishing the goal of providing 11,000 tablets pre-loaded with teaching resources for students by the end of the year.
Over $65M in ICT equipment was also given to TVET institutions for online learning.
Some 425 laptops and computing devices for teachers are expected to be distributed in the second half of the year, to facilitate the roll-out of the Education Management Information System (EMIS).
The ICT and EMIS implementation will provide real-time information and statistics for more effective planning, monitoring, and supervision of schools.
As the government works to enhance student outcomes by expanding access to learning materials, by the end of 2022, every student from Grades 7 through 13 will have textbooks for English Language, English Literature, and Mathematics which are necessary.
In June, some 70 electronic tablets were donated to eight schools by We Are GUTSY Inc ( Guyanese United to Serve our Youth).
Back in July, the Ministry of Education signed contracts totalling $198.9 million for the construction of annexes at Queen’s College and Bishop’s High School.
The PPP/C Government is dedicated to enhancing the ICT sector through the support of various educational programmes for youth development and across-the-board youth training initiatives.
In the next nine months, students attending the Government Technical Institute will benefit from a brand-new state-of-the-art building. The $140 million project is part of a public-private partnership between the Ministry of Education and the Ken Subraj Foundation. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed back in May.
The first smart classroom was commissioned by the ministry back in April at the Christianburg Secondary School.
Minister Manickchand said the smart classroom would enable technology-enhanced learning. The education minister pointed out that it will improve both how children learn and how teachers deliver courses.
Rehabilitation and construction of schools
The government also invested huge sums to rehabilitate and construct new schools across the country, with the view of ensuring that students were comfortably accommodated when schools reopened.
The mid-year report noted that out of the $6.6 billion allocated for improving the infrastructure of education facilities, the sum of $2.3 billion was spent during the first half of the year.
Included is the construction of nursery schools at Hydronie, Haslington and Vryheid’s Lust; and primary schools at Bamia/Amelia’s Ward, Kaikan, Karabairu, Zeelugt, and Oronoque.
Primary schools are being built in Karabairu and Bamia/Ward, Amelia’s completion is anticipated by the end of 2022 and 2023, respectively.
West Minster Secondary School, Abram Zuil Nursery School, and Queenstown Nursery School are some of the schools completed.
The Martyrs’ Ville Nursery was commissioned earlier this month valued at $89 million which facilitates some 270 students.
Some 300 displaced students from St George’s High School were accommodated at secondary schools in Georgetown, Region Four, and Region Three.
This is in addition to 120 students who are being accommodated at the South Ruimveldt Secondary, bringing the total to 420 students.
The contract to the tune of $566.9 million was signed back in August for the construction of North Ruimveldt Secondary School.
Back in August, a contract for the design, provision, installation, and commissioning of solar photovoltaic systems at the Guyana Learning Channel sites at Aishalton and Karasabai in Region Nine was signed by the Ministry of Education and Gafsons Industries Limited. The cost of the project is $48,699,989.
Growth in CAPE and CXC
Guyana has recorded improved performance in both the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) for 2022.
The country witnessed an increase in CAPE of 93.22 per cent in 2022 compared to 90.86 per cent in 2021.
This year, the test was taken by 671 students from 17 institutions, including 12 public secondary schools and 4 private institutions.
Similar gains were noted for CSEC, which saw a pass rate climb from 66.36 to 68.5 per cent in 2022. With 62,990 subject submissions, 10,368 applicants in total wrote this year’s exams.
Meanwhile, some 16, 223 candidates wrote this year’s National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) where three students tied for the top position.
During the review period, 1,151 teachers were taught the application of the revised curriculum at the primary level which strives to foster more inclusion by addressing the unique features and various skills of each child.
Out of the $200 million allocated for stipends for aspiring teachers, for the first half of the year, 928 pre-service students received payments totalling $70.9 million, while the remainder will be paid to ongoing and potential students in the second part of the year.
The University of Guyana spent $1.7 billion of the $3.5 billion earmarked for operations and new academic offerings in the first half of 2022.
“Within the $1.3 billion allocated to provide an additional 4,500 online scholarships under the GOAL programme, resources were utilised in the first half of the year to finance the 2,002 continuing students, as well as the granting of 4,250 scholarships for 2022,” the mid-year report stated.
Chief Education Officer, Dr Marcel Hutson, during his address at a pre-stakeholder CVQ engagement back in August, stated that all secondary school students should have certification in job-ready, technical, and vocational skills by the time they complete their studies because the education ministry is pushing for both academic and economic viability.
Furthermore, nine secondary schools with 119 pupils were also identified to complete four Level One Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) programmes in commercial food preparation, crops and soils, fabric design, and furniture manufacturing by the third quarter of this year.
Concerning the Guyana Strengthening Human Capital through Education Project, the Government of Guyana and the World Bank inked a financing deal in August for US$44 million. The project will focus on the expansion of access to quality education at the secondary level and improving technical and vocational training (TVET).
The Board of Industrial Training (BIT) spent $187.9 million of its $448.5 million budget during the review period to teach 2,166 people in 34 skill categories, and 2,847 more people are anticipated to get training in the second half of the year.
A Get Ready for Opportunity to Work (GROW) programme was also started to award 4,000 scholarships to those who dropped out of high school.
National School Feeding Programme
As it relates to the national feeding programme, the mid-year report highlighted, “With effect from September 2022, 10,025 Grade six pupils from 245 primary schools will also benefit from breakfast for the first time, for $190.7 million.”
The $267 million National Breakfast Programme was launched earlier this month at the Mackenzie Primary School, Linden.
This initiative forms part of the national feeding programme which totals $2 billion to benefit 41,886 pupils. The objective of the programme is to ensure that children in all regions have sufficient nourishment to promote learning and ease the financial burden on parents.
The government intends to expand the national feeding programme to all primary schools in Guyana. The earliest beneficiaries of the PPP/C Administration were students in the countryside.
The Government of Guyana has accomplished much over the last year demonstrating its commitment to ensuring Guyanese have access to educational opportunities at all levels.