All schools to benefit from $1.8B school supplies cash grant
– distribution began in Region Two
The sum of $1.8 billion is being distributed to schools countrywide, through the Ministry of Education’s school supplies cash grant, to create conducive learning environments.
The distribution exercise commenced at the Abram Zuil Secondary School, Region Two on Monday.
Education Minister, Priya Manickchand disclosed that the monies will be distributed for “two terms alone”.
This, the minister explained, will be “given directly” to “schools to allow the schools autonomy about how they purchase cleaning, janitorial, office supplies.”
The grant is the first of its kind. It was conceived and implemented last year by the education minister with the intent of providing financial relief and support to teachers in purchasing the necessary janitorial, cleaning, and office supplies tailored to their classrooms.
After, concerns were raised by teachers about the financial strains caused by having to use their salaries to purchase these materials for the classroom.
“We thought that if we gave the grants directly to schools then teachers [would] be able to choose what they want, what quality they want, and when they want it. The other benefit of that would be that the teachers will be able to keep their salaries in their pockets thereby leaving them with more disposable income,” she stated.
The grant will provide $4,500 per student to schools located on the Coastland. Of that sum, teachers will get $3,500 per child while the school will receive $1,000 per child.
Hinterland schools will receive $5,500 per child. similarly, teachers will receive $4,500 while the school receives $1,000 per child.
For secondary schools, the monies will be distributed differently allowing for the school to receive $1,000 per child while the head of the department receives the remainder of the monies.
He or she will discuss with fellow teachers to determine how the money will be spent in the department.
Additionally, the minister revealed that the ministry has taken a different implementation route to allow teachers to have a wider scope of freedom on what they can purchase.
“We asked the Ministry of Finance to put this under the lines of subventions and grants which will give us wider latitude about what can be bought. It is still supposed to be mainly recurrent items but there are some items that can be bought…So, we are not sending out a list,” the minister said.
Minister Manickchand also disclosed how the money used to purchase the stipulated items is left to the school and teachers’ discretion.
However, teachers are required to provide receipts of their purchases to ensure transparency. Further, an auditor will accompany the ministry during the distribution process to make sure it is being done under the government’s fiscal rules.
“It is not a grant to do whatever one wants with it; it is a grant to provide materials and supplies. For the most part, teachers don’t have any problems with that …and if you are using it for the reason it is given for then you shouldn’t have a problem with producing receipts,” she emphasised.
Meanwhile, the minister announced that by September, she is hoping to have more schools create a bank account to make the process easier through the click of a button.
Currently, only 44 schools across the country have their bank accounts. Exceptions will be made for schools located in the hinterland where banking systems may not exist.