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As part of its vision to develop a world-class education system, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) will be injecting $60.7B into the Education Sector as a first step.
“We intend to ensure equal access to quality education, at all levels, for all children, regardless of their background, to increase and improve the quality and quantity of trained teachers, learning resources and materials, and to increase the use of innovation and technology in order to improve education delivery and learning outcomes,” Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh said as he presented the 2021 Budget to the National Assembly on Friday.
Of the 60.7B, approximately $5.2B has been earmarked for the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of educational facilities countrywide.
“In order to deliver world-class education over the next five years, our administration plans to improve access with the construction and equipping of nursery, primary and secondary schools across the country with the necessary resources, inclusive of quality teachers, updated curricula and STEM laboratories, worthy of a system comparable to international standards,” the Finance Minister detailed.
Minister Singh said in response to the challenges posed by the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Education Sector was left with no other choice but to implement blended modalities to ensure learning continuity for all students, including a revamped Guyana Learning Channel Trust, which is benefitting over 130,000 students.
Additionally, the Education Ministry has distributed printed worksheets and other materials to over 41,000 students in the hinterland, riverine and disadvantaged coastal areas. Further to that, almost 4,000 teachers were trained in the integration of innovation and ICT into their teaching-learning process via the Profuturo online platform.
“The immediate focus of our administration is pandemic preparedness, including the provision of PPEs for all students and teachers and to retrofit all schools with troughs, sinks and water systems to provide a safe learning environment across all levels. Even as we adjust education delivery to a pandemic-sensitive modality, our goals for the sector in the medium-term are set high,” Minister Singh said.
Further, the Government intends to transform the Cyril Potter College of Education into a fully online-compatible modality from application forms to tutorials and courses being offered online. It has also budgeted $884M for the equipping and retooling of technical and vocational training centres, and a whopping $3.3B for the University of Guyana.
“The University of Guyana will also be refashioned to better respond to the needs of a modernising Guyana including through its technological advancement to ensure learning materials and courses are made available online. Budget 2021 provides a total of $3.3 billion to finance the operations of the two campuses of the University of Guyana,” Minister Singh announced.
He also announced that 20,000 scholarships will be awarded over the next five years so as to allow Guyanese to advance their education.
“Mr. Speaker, a hallmark of this administration’s vision for a top-tier education system, is the establishment of an online learning institute that will deliver 20,000 scholarships over the next five years. In 2021, we plan to begin execution of this initiative, catering for the provision of over 4,500 scholarships, through a multi-agency formulation including the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Public Service and the Ministry of Labour,” he said.
He said a collaborative venture between the Government and the Commonwealth of Learning and Coursera has provided Guyanese with more than 4,000 free online courses from various universities around the world. Some 64,605 persons have already benefited. A sum of $1 billion is budgeted to support online scholarships to be granted in 2021.