Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand on Friday urged all stakeholders, including the Parliamentary Opposition, to work collaboratively with the Ministry to ensure that Guyana’s children benefit from a higher quality of education even as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about new challenges in education delivery.
Manickchand, during her contribution to debates of Budget 2020 this morning said that she is prepared to work with any stakeholder that is willing to partner to improve the services offered by her Ministry.
“Two heads will always be better than one…my position has been, always, and will continue to be that I am prepared to partner with whoever is prepared to partner with us to take the education sector forward,” the Education Minister told the National Assembly.
She reasoned that this does not mean that persons would need to share the same opinions as she or her party, adding; much progress could be achieved “if we truly love our children.”
“Let us partner for the children of Guyana, because the PPP/C is on a mission; and it is to deliver education to all corners of this country, to every single child of this country, she urged her colleagues in the House.
Manickchand said that the 2020 Budget brings to the people of Guyana “what they said they wanted,” noting that when the document was crafted, it was done with the engagement of a wide cross-section of stakeholders, including labour, private sector, women, Amerindian and religious groups.
The Education Minister explained that when the PPP/C Government got into office in August this year, it found an education system that was totally unprepared to deliver education in a health crisis and the Ministry was forced to take immediate steps to ensure that children remain engaged.
Manickchand told the National Assembly that within a matter of a few weeks the Ministry was able to commence education delivery using blended learning options, including the Learning Channel, online, radio and distribution of printed materials. Over $300 million was allocated to these blended learning options.
The Government has budgeted $52 billion or 15.8 percent of the total Budget for the education sector. Of this amount, over $1.7 billion is allocated for the construction and rehabilitation of schools across the country.
Manickchand also pointed out that funds have been allocated in this Budget to establish a radio station which will be dedicated to delivering education.
She further noted that the reopening of schools is “inevitable” and as such the safety and well-being of everyone is paramount.
With this in mind, she said provisions have been made for schools to be equipped with the necessary infrastructure to cater for the safety of teachers, students and other employees.
In this regard, she noted that sinks with running water, proper ventilation, working toilets, the delivery of masks to teachers, students and ancillary staff and adequate signage to promote safe behaviour in all schools and institutions are catered for in this year’s budget.
Manickchand also detailed that the Ministry of Education recently launched a mass teacher training exercise which will see all teachers across the country being trained in the delivery of education using ICT effectively.
She posited that this training will equip teachers will the skills to function in an ever-changing learning environment.