Over $90 million in school uniform/supplies vouchers were distributed to parents of students attending public schools in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) on Saturday as part of the Government’s multi-million-dollar programme to assist families with school-aged children.
On Saturday, led by Education Minister Priya Manickchand, Ministers Joseph Hamilton and Zulfikar Mustapha visited the region to assist in the distribution of the vouchers.
Some 22,000 students across the region will benefit from the $4000 per child school uniform/supplies vouchers.
Across the country, over 170,000 students will be receiving the vouchers, putting $650 million into the economy. This is in addition to the $15,000 per child school voucher which Government will start giving to parents of public-school children in January 2021, Minister Manickchand reminded parents on Saturday.
“You can multiply $15,000 by 173,000 students and you will see the kind of investments we are making. When this Government gets any kind of money; we had to go and look got money to give it back to you, we did not have money; so, you can make the comparison. We believe that is our obligation,” Manickhand said.
While the vouchers distributed on Saturday are called uniform vouchers, the Education Minister explained that the vouchers can be redeemed at any accredited store and can be used to purchase any school-related item.
“It does not have to be uniforms alone, it can be anything from school bags, books socks, shoes, lunch kits, equipment; anything that has to do with schools.”
The programme, the Minister recalled, started in 2014, under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) where $10,000 was given to each child with a promise that it would increase incrementally each year to become $50,000 in five years.
“If that had continued you would have been receiving $50,000 this year because five years have since passed. Unfortunately, that programme was discontinued by the former Administration and nothing replaced it. We are restarting that programme and we will restart it with $15,000 per child next year and it is going to grow until it reaches $50,000. So, if you have five children that is a quarter-million-dollar per year as an assistance from the State and that is our commitment to you,” Manickchand told parents.
Seventeen secondary schools in the region, two practical institution centres, 53 primary schools and 67 nursery schools were visited by the three Ministers.
Addressing parents at the Number 48 Primary School, the Education Minister said apart from the uniform vouchers Government would like to see parents saving money.
“And that is why you see our policies such as removing vat from water and electricity being removed almost immediately upon assuming Government. When you pay less for your electricity bill and for your water bill; when we give you $4000 and $15,000 that all adds up to giving you a lot more financial freedom in your home.”
This, she said, will afford persons to be able to have a better quality of life.
“That is what we are about. That is what we would like to do. There are many other things that will cause you financial relief such as providing to you the exercise books your children need,” she explained.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha addressing parents at JC Chandisingh Secondary situated at Port Mourant, Corentyne, noted that Government has also reduced taxes on education material which the previous Administration had implemented. In fact, he reminded that Government has reduced some 200 new taxes which were implemented by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government.
“We are doing this because we want to put systems in place so that our people can enjoy the benefits of the country.
“We are developing the education sector in giving scholarships. This year alone we have given over 20,000 scholarships; not only to the University of Guyana, the technical institutes and other vocational training centres but we have had also at the University of the West Indies.”
Many Guyanese have applied and have been selected to commence those courses, Mustapha noted.
Meanwhile, Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton told parents and teachers at St Aloysius Primary that is just the beginning to ease the burden on parents including teachers who are parents that their children can attend school.
Davi Deonauth, a mother of three, with one attending the Number 48 Primary, said she was happy to receive the uniform voucher. She said she would be using it to purchase items for her children to undertake their school work.
“They need stuff to do their work.”
Another parent, Alexis Grimes, also said she would be providing needed supplies for her children while expressing gratitude. Textbooks and school bags were on her list of needed items.
Meanwhile, Premraj Toolsie, who is a farmer and single parent, noted that the uniform voucher is very important to him since it will assist him to acquire needed supplies for his daughter.
According to the farmer, he does not have access to the internet and goes to the school to obtain worksheets for his daughter to be able to receive academic instructions. (Andrew Carmichael)