Minister of Education Priya Manickchand has emphasised that in a developing nation like Guyana, education plays a vital role in providing people with the knowledge, skills, and critical thinking abilities needed for economic growth and development.
She said that education fosters a skilled workforce, promotes social cohesion and enhances democratic values.
She was at the time speaking during the 2024 budget debate at the 72nd Sitting of the National Assembly, at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, on Monday.
“By investing in education, a developing country can empower its citizens to break the cycle of poverty, drive innovation and contribute to nation building…It is the key that unlocks the doors of opportunities paving the way for a brighter future for individuals and the nation as a whole. Any government that understands this would invest in education and that is what the PPP/C has been doing consistently,” the education minister stressed.
It has been highlighted repeatedly how prudent investment in the sector has benefited the Guyanese public.
According to Minister Manickchand, Guyana has a high ranking on the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), which gauges the nation’s citizens’ overall well-being, health, and educational attainment.
Heavy investments in the education sector continue to yield exceptional results.
Arthurville Primary School has moved from 36 per cent in 2022 in English to 50 per cent; 50 per cent in Mathematics to 83 per cent; and 29 per cent to 50 per cent in Science.
In the hinterland regions, the rate has increased there as well.
The pass rate for Aishalton moved from 22 per cent to 67 per cent, Annai’s pass rate moved from 19 per cent to 58 per cent, while Sand Creek’s pass rate moved from 15 per cent to 60 per cent.
This, she added, is a measurable result of robust policies and investments.
“When we talk about these numbers, we mean more people and more children passed. More children were able to access opportunities and thrive in this build-out that we are building in Guyana,” Minister Manickchand emphasised.
In the last three years, 4,575 children have been provided with a conducive environment to receive their education in various secondary schools across the nation.
Several new secondary schools were constructed which include De Willem, Good Hope, Westminster, Yarrowkabra, Abram Zuil. Additionally, St. Roses High, Bishops’ High, Queen’s College, East Ruimveldt Secondary and St Winefride’s Secondary received new annexes.
In 2024, $28.7 billion has been budgeted towards the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of school buildings and educational facilities.
Works will be advanced to complete several secondary schools in 2024 on Hosororo Secondary, North-West Secondary, Kwebanna Secondary, Jawalla, Karasabai, Christ Church, North Ruimveldt, St George’s, and St Mary’s. Extension work will be executed at St Stanislaus College.
Works will commence at new secondary schools at Aishalton, Christiansburg, Kopinang, Micobie and Prospect Secondary.
Six large primary schools will be built in various areas such as Recht Door Zee, Tuschen, Tabatinga, Wisroc, Huradiah, and Diamond.
The education minister stressed, “Every child in this country, whether you are from primary, secondary or nursery from the deep hinterland, the coastland or in Georgetown, will be able to access education under the PPP/C Government.”
Further to this, rehabilitative works will be executed on dormitories and teachers’ living quarters across Guyana.
On the National School Feeding programme, she alluded to the $4.9 billion proposed budget in 2024 to provide juice, biscuits, breakfast, and hot meals to 126,170 children.
“This budget will allow us to add 42 schools plus 234 schools in Grade Five, adding a total of 19,000 additional children who will get meals in the hinterland,” Minister Manickchand highlighted.
With a strong focus on increasing quantity, all students will receive all the necessary textbooks and better-quality exercise books this year.
Over the last three years, $8 billion in textbooks were provided to students.
As it relates to the training of teachers, the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) graduated 1,796 trained teachers in November 2023, the largest cohort to date.
In fact, for the first time in the history of Guyana, 99 per cent of teachers are either trained or in training currently.
The education minister mentioned that 3,198 teachers were trained from 2020 to 2023.
“So, when we speak about wanting better for people, our actions must match our words. You had 31 teachers being trained in the hinterland. We have 1,000 teachers one year being trained in the hinterland. That is love for the people and children,” she pointed out.
In 2024, 1,900 teachers will be trained, while 1,500 will be trained in 2025. This will further propel Guyana to achieve 100 per cent trained teachers by the year 2025.
Through the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL), Guyanese teachers and other persons have the opportunity to pursue higher education at renowned universities across the world.
She underlined, “The PPP/C will continue to offer opportunities, whether they are courses or certificates, degrees, masters or PhDs to as many people that want it. And we will not apologise for that.” A sum of $135.2 billion is budgeted for the education sector this year.