The Department of Public Service responds to Stabroek News

April 20,2020

The Department of Public Service has noted the article published in the Stabroek News dated April 20th, 2020 under the caption, “COVID 19: Guyanese Doctors, students seeking evacuation from Cuba, says conditions deteriorating.”

The Department would like to make it clear to all concerned that the article does not accurately describe the sentiments of a majority of the students who are currently in Cuba. In addition, we wish to put the following on record – – We have been and remain in constant contact with our Student Affairs Officer in Cuba and in all other countries where our students are currently on scholarship and are aware of the situations as they exist.- When the COVID 19 virus started in China we decided on and maintained a certain line of action despite disagreements from many, but to date the students who remained are pleased now that they did not leave as China is opening up and school will recommence shortly.Meanwhile, those who chose to return home, against the advice of the Department of Public Service, are not sure how or when they will be able to get back to China because most of the airports around the world are closed and may remain closed for an indefinite period.

As it relates to Cuba it should be made clear that Some students have indicated that they were either unaware of the letter and its contents and were just asked to sign to make up numbers, others stated that they were of the view that the letter spoke to them coming home for the August holidays. Others have indicated that they are on their final rotation and do not wish to come home now but welcome the assistance of hampers from the Department of Public Service.

For further clarity I will leave with you some comments from students currently in Cuba. These speak to their current perspective of what is happening in Cuba and the letter that was utilized to form the content of the article in the Stabroek News.

1. An Undergrad Student at Santiago de Cuba stated the following-  Students put their names on the list in support of the persons who wanted to leave. They are getting food from the university. The situation is stable; they are given medications to improve the immune system.

2. Post Graduate Student at Santiago de Cuba – Dud you see the letter that was written to some one of the media concerning necessary evacuation of all Guyanese students. I was not a part of that..and I have no intentions of leaving here without my masters..the situation in Santiago is stable..students are all locked down..faculties are closed..u dont need a booklet to buy in the matket or bodega….and you can eat the comodor food..we all went through this …soo who wrote this letter is refering to a concer that may affect ..them…just wanted to say..TIC. (this is cuba) they signed up for it….sacrifices must be made…we only have to do a 24 hour shift now …every 6 day….thats much better…soo i am holding the fort for now..

3. Students from Granma- the hampers are a good idea. Still doing school work via library n correspondent.  Does not have a problem staying we are already in it.

4. Students at ELAM. – most persons were just asked if they wanted to go home they though it was for August holiday the situation is more or less the same . Some said the hampers were an excellent idea. It seems as though Cuba has control on whats happening based on the stats. Most persons did not know about the letter only towards the end when they were asked to put their names to make up numbers and they went along with it. They are still having classes.  Others still want to go home if possible

The Department of Public Service is therefore of the view that some mischief is afoot here, to give the impression that the Government of Guyana through the Department of Public Service is disinterested in the wellbeing of our students studying abroad. 

Since this crisis began We have thus far ensured that our students in China received the necessary items they requested, we have increased hardship allowances to our Government of Guyana fully funded scholars, so as to ensure that they are able to get the essential items needed to keep them healthy and take all hygienic precautions during this time.