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The allocation of funding to educational programs is a crucial aspect of national development, as it has a significant impact on the access and quality of education available to citizens. In Guyana, the University of Guyana and the GOAL education program are two different government initiatives that aim to provide higher education opportunities for citizens. However, the allocation of funding between these two programs is a source of concern, as the government appears to be underfunding and neglecting the University of Guyana while channeling resources to the GOAL education program.
According to the 2023 budget presentation, the University of Guyana has been allocated $3.7 billion, while the GOAL education program has been allocated $1.8 billion. Although both programs aim to improve access and quality of education, the University of Guyana is a 60 year old institution, managing 3 physical campuses and 8000 students across the country. That UG only receives twice as much as the GOAL program which has a staff of 10 persons is a national embarrassment.
The University of Guyana is the country’s sole national higher education institution, with a long history and reputation. It provides students with access to face-to-face learning experiences with qualified lecturers and peers, as well as physical facilities such as libraries, laboratories, and sports grounds. The University also facilitates research and innovation activities that can contribute to national development.
On the other hand, the GOAL education program offers online learning opportunities in various fields and levels through collaborations with several international universities. Although the program offers a wide range of courses and degrees, it relies on internet connectivity and devices that are often not available or affordable for some potential learners. The program also lacks sufficient support services such as academic counseling, mentoring or tutoring for online learners. Additionally, we have never been told how the program manages the challenge of ensuring academic integrity and preventing plagiarism or cheating among online learners.
Despite the UG’s significant contribution to Guyana over the past 6 decades, the disparity in funding allocation is a cause for concern, particularly given the government’s apparent neglect of the University of Guyana. Rather than investing in the University of Guyana to make it the region’s premier university, the government has enacted a strategy to underfund the institution. This approach is counterproductive, as it limits the potential of the University to contribute to national development and denies students the opportunity to access quality face-to-face learning experiences.
Moreover, the government’s decision to channel resources to the GOAL education program, which has a significantly high dropout rate, raises questions about the effectiveness of the program in achieving its goals. While online learning has the potential to expand access to education, any investment in online learning should be managed through the University of Guyana’s administrative network, if only to extract the efficiency that could result in more effective spending on education.
The allocation of funding to educational programs is a critical aspect of national development. While the GOAL education program offers online learning opportunities, the neglect of the University of Guyana is a cause for concern. The government should prioritize properly funding the University to enable it to provide quality face-to-face learning experiences, support research and innovation, and contribute to national development. Additionally, the effectiveness of the GOAL education program should be reviewed to ensure that it is achieving its objectives and providing value for money. Citizens should be informed about the student dropout rate, the enrollment rate and what standards the MOE is using to measure the success of the GOAL program. Citizens should be told if the MOE is spending their tax dollars efficiently.