Education Minister Nicolette Henry told the National Assembly that Government did not get to expand the school feeding programme as intended, though some $300M was requested in the 2019 budget under programme 404 for students up to grade two.
Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Priya Manickchand had earlier raised concerns that over $2B was sent back to the treasury last year.
She asked Minister Henry on Wednesday whether sugar workers’ children were considered when the programme was being executed to which Henry responded in the affirmative.
The People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) MP highlighted that thousands of these sugar workers lost their jobs, reminding the House that many of them say they cannot afford adequate meals or to send their children to school regularly.
The feeding programme was developed in an effort to fight hunger and malnutrition among children in Guyana.
The objectives of the programme include building more community participation in schools and improving children’s human development outcomes, such as student enrollment and attendance, nutritional status and learning outcomes.
Mancikchand however, reiterated that money could have been spent on uniform grants.
The uniform grants were cut in 2015 when the APNU/AFC coalition Government took office stating that the initiative was fiscally unstable.
According to Government, the programme was under review as to ensure that the poor and vulnerable should be the main beneficiaries.
However, government continued the school uniform vouchers.
The ‘Because we care’ initiative was launched in October of 2014 and was slated to benefit 188,406 families of the students of nursery, primary, and secondary schools in the public school system.
However to date, no word was given by the coalition Government as to the status of the initiative or whether it was indeed reviewed.