Education Minister exposes Opposition’s inability to execute projects

says Budget caters for COVID-19 response

Minister of Education, Hon. Priya Manickchand on Thursday slammed the APNU+AFC Parliamentary Opposition for its inability to execute key projects and programmes during its time in office.

On the third day of Budget 2021 debates, Minister Manickchand addressed the claim from her predecessor APNU’s Dr. Nicolette Henry MP, that the PPP Government was piggybacking on several education projects started by the former administration.

Minister of Education, Hon. Priya Manickchand as she passionately delivers her presentation to the National Assembly

“All the APNU/AFC is known for is starting projects they can’t finish… All those projects you started, we rolling them out now. You couldn’t get it done and that’s the problem,” she told the National Assembly.

Minister Manickchand also chastised the Opposition for failing to launch the Coursera programme locally. She disclosed that there are several letters from Coursera and the Commonwealth asking the former Minister to start the programme.

The programme was not launched until September 2020.  Since then, Minister Manickchand said 31,297 Guyanese took courses while 9,473 received certificates.

The National Assembly also heard that Guyana now ranks number one in the world for members enrolled and graduating from Coursera. 

Meanwhile, Minister Manickchand said mere weeks after taking office, numerous projects were rolled out to combat the impact of COVID-19 on the education sector. She noted that from the moment Covid was recorded in Guyana on March 11, 2020 to the day the PPP/C Government took office, no attempt was made by the then Government to put systems in place to continue the delivery of education remotely.

“The Honourable Member Nicolette Henry was in office for 143 days after we shut down for COVID. One hundred and forty-three days for me ended on Boxing Day and by that time, from August 2 to December 26, we had done worksheets, we had employed the Learning Channel towards learning, reopened schools for the exam classes, put instruction on the radio and started online teaching all in the same amount of time,” she said.

In an effort to ensure the needs of children countrywide are being met, the Ministry held numerous consultations with parents and students to get their feedback.

Turning her attention to Budget 2021, the Minister again rebuffed claims that there are no provisions for educational delivery during a pandemic.

“This Budget is all about COVID for education… When we increase print and non-print by nine per cent, it’s to cater for the worksheets. When we increase janitorial by 26.4 per cent, it is for the excess cleaning we know we’ll have. These are all lines under the Budget. When we say we’re going to buy $500 million worth of equipment to expand the Learning Channel, this is all a COVID response,” she said.

Under the education allocation for 2021, Guyanese can expect the roll out of more channels delivering educational content. Education delivery in the hinterland is also set to be further expanded with the implementation of satellite receivers in several villages.

In wrapping up her presentation, Minister Manickchand endorsed Budget 2021 and noted that it continues the work started in the 2020 Emergency Budget.