By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai has dismissed as ‘far from reality’ claims by Opposition Parliamentarian Dawn Hastings that Amerindian students do not have access to quality education.
Sukhai in recalling PNC days said the enrollment of Amerindian teachers was minimal and the hinterland schools depended mostly on coastland teachers.
She said however that under the PPP/C government this has been completely turned around.
“Is the Opposition saying today that the majority of Amerindian teachers are poor quality educators? Furthermore, today, all the PNC legacy of deplorable schools has been transformed into quality institutions of learning with modern facilities, proud Amerindian teachers and student-friendly learning environment.”
In making her point, the Minister told the House that Martha George, a student of the Waramadong Secondary School, has successfully finished her medical degree in Cuba and returned recently to serve.
“Isn’t this an evidence of equity towards access to quality education that the PPP/C government has pioneered? Even the Member Hastings who sits on the opposition side, is a beneficiary of the same quality education, and I would like to congratulate her for remaining in the sector to serve.”
The Minister added that over the last 20 years the Hinterland Scholarship Programme has produced 7,000 hinterland students, and in 2014, Region 7 registered the second highest number of students (80) in the programme.
Sukhai told the House that the total investment in this programme for the last five years is more than $350M. This year an estimated 470 students will benefit from the allocation of $66.6M.
The MP pointed out too that as proposed in the 2014 budget, more than 30,000 Amerindian students will benefit from the $10,000 grant, adding that she hopes the Opposition will not deny this right to the Amerindians.
Recalling the PNC period, the Minister said the scholarship programme only catered to top three students, adding that training of teachers was centralized; no targeted school feeding programme, no school uniform program; one secondary school in the hinterland and no text books.
She told the House too that the annual national school uniform project provide benefits to a total of 30,000 hinterland students of which more that 95 percent are Amerindians across the hinterland regions of 1, 7, 8, and 9 with an investment sum of $350M over the five year period.