Education grant not an election gimmick – Minister Manickchand asserts

The government has made it clear that the $40,000 education grant is not an election gimmick as being peddled by critics. Speaking on the Guyana Dialogue Thursday, Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand said she is aware of persons trying to ‘dishonestly’ juxtapose the distribution of the grant and the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE) on June 12.

In 2021, the education ministry distributed the grants in late August. However, parents informed the ministry that they would like the monies to be distributed earlier. This was accommodated in 2022 but teachers were required to come out during the holidays to assist in the distribution.

Again, teachers were not pleased with the system and asked for the grant to be shared a bit earlier, the education minister explained.

Minister of Education, Hon. Priya Manickchand

“They [teachers] preferred earlier so they don’t have to disrupt their holiday to come out to do this. If there’s no time to do this, the test begins around [June] 14. If we’re to disrupt exams and comply with what parents said they want and what teachers said they want, this is the only time this could be done. We’re very happy to do it but I think it is disingenuous for persons to say that this is an election gimmick,” the education minister expressed.

She said it was the APNU+AFC in 2014 that was also spreading misinformation on the grant, stating it was an election gimmick.

The coalition had indicated it would halt the cash grant programme and instead implement the Five Bs initiative that provided boats, buses, bicycles, breakfast, and books to children.

 “There were regions that never had breakfast from them, never got a single bus, never got a single boat, and no boots … They quashed the programme without replacing it with anything else,” the minister pointed out.

In 2023, the government increased the ‘Because We Care’ cash grant from $25,000 to $35,000, which will benefit more than 214,000 public and private school children countrywide.  The increase to $35,000 together with the $5,000 for school uniforms and other supplies, will see each school child receiving $40,000.

The government aims to increase the grant to $50,000 per child during its first term in office.
More than 200,000 persons have already received the ‘Because We Care’ grant to date.

Some $8.6 billion was earmarked in budget 2023 to roll out this programme.