System for awarding scholarships “heavily flawed” – Minister Parag

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Minister of Public Service Sonia Parag

Public Service Minister Sonia Parag on Monday asserted that the process in awarding Government scholarships was highly flawed, and her Ministry intends to undertake a review aimed at ensuring that the system is fair and transparent so that all deserving Guyanese could have an equal chance of benefiting.

Minister Parag was at the time providing a virtual update to the media regarding an initial assessment of her Ministry and her work plans moving forward.

“What I have found is that the system that we have for vetting scholarships, that system is heavily flawed. This is what I have personally observed, and that is something that I plan to review and I plan to change,” she declared.

When asked what makes the process “flawed”, the Minister responded that it is skewed to “one demographic and one geographic area in Guyana”, adding that this has been going on for the last five years.

While she did not divulge further details, Parag said that the PPP/C Government has always said it will be fair and and transparent in the way it manages the affairs of the State, “and that is what we are going to do”.

The Minster expressed that persons who believe that their application for scholarships did not benefit from a fair and transparent process could choose to reapply and the Ministry will address the applications on a case by case basis.

The APNU/AFC Government had come under severe fire during its tenure in office over the manner in which the national scholarships programme was managed, with many persons claiming that the selection process was not open and fair.

For example, it was reported recently that Dr Jason Ramcharran spent a gruelling six-year stint at the Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina (ELAM) in Cuba and through merit and hard work graduated as one of the top students in his class.

But since returning to Guyana, his efforts to specialise in neurology have been blocked several times by the very people who should have been helping him. Under the former Government, all six of Dr Ramcharran’s applications for scholarships or sponsorship were denied without any plausible reasons.

Ramcharran studied in Cuba from 2008 to 2015 and earned a 5.26 Grade Point Average (GPA) when he graduated second in his class. He recorded almost perfect scores in all the subjects he covered in both theory and practice.

On the other hand, citizens were only made aware that two APNU/AFC Government ministers had benefited from full scholarships that were paid for by the State after questions were raised in the Parliament during the consideration of the 2017 Budget estimates, long after the beneficiaries had started their courses.

Meanwhile, Minister Parag disclosed that as of 12th August 2020, there are 120 students who are continuing studies overseas in fourteen different countries; 563 persons are continuing studies in Guyana at ten institutions; that is a total of 684 continuing students.