Revised Education Act to regulate private schools-Govt

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The regularisation of all private education institutions will be provided for under the new Education Act. Currently, only 20 per cent are recognised and registered with the Ministry of Education.

This is according to the Technical Advisor to the Minster of Education, Vincent Alexander, who said that the Education Act does not have sufficient guidelines regarding private intuitions hence, the revision of the Act will provide for such.

Technical Advisor to the Minister of Education, Vincent Alexander

“The Education Act as it is does not have sufficient teeth, so to speak, in regards to regulating private schools. It is envisaged that the new Act, will be strengthened in terms of what the ministry can do to regularise private schools,” Alexander explained during an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA).

Notwithstanding the kind of anticipatory approach, Alexander noted that the ministry has designated an education officer who is responsible for private schools.

Even as the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) announced that only 57 per cent of the private schools are registered with the entity, the ministry is in the process of trying to get all of the private schools on the register. “… this will only be perfected when we finalise the legislation which will then provide for the ministry to regulate the private schools in a manner which it is not provided for (in the current Education Act),” Alexander  added.

There is a draft Bill and the intention is that after the Commission of Enquiry (COI) into Guyana’s education system report is completed, the ministry will then be acting on two major documents; the sector’s strategic plan, for which a review will be done, and the finalisation of the draft Education Bill, Alexander stated. After the Bill is reviewed it will be taken to the Attorney General Chambers, then to Parliament for consideration.

“It’s a work in progress in terms of upgrading the Education Act. It is far gone, it’s just for us to do a slight adjustment to that Bill in terms of what the COI comes up with,” Alexander said.

The 14 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on private tuition has resulted in public outcry from persons including the head of private learning schools.

Since it implementation, the Opposition has called on two occasions for the government to reverse the imposition of 14 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on private school fees.

The Parliamentary Opposition threw its support behind educators such as Dr Brian O’Toole whose private institution, School of the Nations, has been fervently articulating against the imposition of the 14 percent VAT, while citing the deleterious consequences that would obtain should this imposition stay in effect.

During a press conference last week, Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan explained that private schools have not been fulfilling their tax and National Insurance Scheme (NIS) obligations. Ten (10) percent of private schools are registered as Non -Governmental Organisations (NGOs) or Not for Profit while 14 are registered as profit making organisations, however only 57 percent are registered with the GRA.

Minister Jordan said that most of the private schools are not compliant and that the call to remove the VAT on tuition fees would result in a loss of around $350 million and could result in an upturn of the Government’s Economic Programme and attendant consequences, or a continuation of adjustments as seen fit to benefit all citizens.

In a release today O’Toole in support of a letter penned by the Chairman of the 6th Form Student Council at Nations outlined that ” Ministers have been quoted in the media as saying, that only 8/57 private schools are tax complaint. Many of us fail to understand the relevance of that argument in this emotive debate.  Recently, it has been said a number of times that the great majority of private schools are not paying their fair share of tax or have found some form of tax loophole. If this is accurate, where is the justice in this, and why cannot this injustice be easily remedied by the authorities?”

“Only a little while ago we were promised “a new beginning” in the country. There are now 1,400 comments on the electronic version of our petition that question whether those promises have been honoured.  What should we say to the thousands of persons we have encountered over the past few weeks who are now disillusioned, dispirited and thoroughly discouraged by the apparent insensitivity of ignoring the views of thousands and thousands of persons who are against the 14% VAT on private education?” the Nations head questioned.

The first protest was held in front of the GRA building

Meanwhile, the protest organized by businessman Roshan Khan against the 14 per cent VAT increases is confirmed to continue tomorrow, but this time in front of the Finance Ministry at 12:00hrs.

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