Education grant will help bridge gaps between hinterland, coastal schools – Minister Croal

Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal, MP, says the ‘Because We Care’ cash grant is another initiative the Government has rolled out that will help to bridge the education gaps between children in the hinterland and those on the coast.

The Minister made this statement when he led the distribution exercise in Wauna, Whitewater and Yarakita, Barima-Waini (Region One) Tuesday.

Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal MP, delivers remarks at Whitewater Primary School

He explained that the gap is caused by inequalities in the distribution of resources, adding that hinterland students who attend coastal schools have demonstrated performance that is just as good, or even better than that of many students on the coast.

The PPP/C Government is also making other investments in education infrastructure and ease of access to training for hinterland teachers.

“We want our hinterland children to take up a greater space of leadership and service to communities,” Minister Croal said.

He added that the Government sees education as the only sure way for impoverished communities to enrich themselves.

The distribution scheme for the grant in Region One began on Sunday.

Region One Chairman, Mr. Brentnol Ashley (left) assists Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal MP (right) with cash grant distribution at Yarakita Primary School

Minister Croal said of the $236 million allocated for Region One, the Mabaruma sub-region will benefit from an allocation of $84 million.

Students attending the Wanau Nursery and Primary Schools will receive $8 million. For the Whitewater Nursery and Primary Schools, the allocation is $6 million. Some $5.7 million was budgeted for Yarakita Primary School students.

“Utilise this grant wisely,” Minister Croal told parents.

Meanwhile, Regional Chairman, Mr. Brentnol Ashley said it was sad and disappointing that the grant was halted during the previous administration.

In deciding not to sustain the initiative started by a previous PPP/C Government, the APNU+AFC administration had claimed that there was not enough fiscal space for it. The Regional Chairman argued that Guyana’s children must be given all tools to afford them a proper education.

Parents, grandparents and teachers from all the villages all said they were pleased about the grant initiative.

The Minister told them the Government recognises that it has been difficult for them since the pandemic confined children to their homes. He expressed hopes that they would put the funds to good use and also encouraged them to take a more active role in their children’s education.

Minister Croal said all parents want to see their children do better than they have done in their own lifetimes.

“You have only one shot at doing this.  So, the most you can do as parents is spend the time in the afternoons to ensure that the children are doing their homework,” he said.

He also encouraged parents to build relationships with teachers, to find out how their children are managing at school.

The Minister said it has been a year and five months since children have not benefitted from classroom instruction.

“Our country must move forward. We must ensure that we put these children back into formal school environments because their livelihood and their future is being affected.”

In this regard, he pointed to the need for more adults to be vaccinated against COVID-19. He explained that this would protect children when it is time for them to head back to school.

The Government has signalled that schools will reopen in September.