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– Manickchand says prolonged closure leading to drop-outs, other challenges
Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand says the Ministry is looking at reopening some schools across Guyana, once there is an agreement between the community, teachers, parents and students.
The Minister made this statement on Tuesday during an interview on 97.5 FM radio with Ms. Melissa Davy. “Region Nine received a letter from every village requesting for schools to be reopened and I will have to speak with the RHO where the Toshaos, parents and teachers are saying, ‘Why are you keeping us closed?’. Forget about vaccines, we will get that at some point but right now, we are ready to go back to school… so without the vaccines, we may be opening up some places too,” she said.
Minister Manickchand said while the Ministry would be more comfortable taking this step once the COVID-19 vaccines have been made available to senior citizens and other groups, it is also listening to the concerns raised by the public.
Further, in response to the main Opposition’s disagreement about the reopening of schools for the senior grades last November, she said while it was a risky decision, it was necessary. “At the time that we opened the schools, we too were not certain what would be the most accurate thing to do or that we were sure that we were right. In those circumstances, leadership calls for the best decision at the best time and I do not make decisions generally alone.
This is coupled with what the international organisations and the countries who have these experiences, what they are doing and then what my people want,” the Minister said.
Minister Manickchand stressed that the challenges Covid presented for the education sector resulted in several school drop-outs, which will continue to affect their lives moving forward.
“We have seen a reduction in the number of students registered to write CXC and that is not unique to Guyana …. We have lost some children to the education system, but what we will not do is sit and throw up our hands and say ‘we lost some children,’” she said.
Minister Manickchand admits this development is primarily due to schools being closed for a long time without any solutions, which led some students to obtain employment and even become pregnant. “We have just [started] working with 52 girls who are either in different stages of pregnancy or have delivered and we are talking about young girls. But I am insistent, we will get them back into schools, and we will help you look after those babies and you will get your education,” she added. While there were also cases where students tested positive for Covid, the Ministry has abided by the measures outlined by the Ministry of Health.