By Sharmain Cornette
The rehabilitation of President’s College is likely to be completed by year-end with the allocation of $15M through the recently announced national budget.
With the Education Ministry as the executing agency, works including the rehabilitation to roofs, block one and dormitories two and three, have been identified in the Capital Project Profile. Additionally, the construction of a storage tank has been listed among the projects to be completed at the school this year.
Central government had last year allocated a sum of $12.127M to engage works on the school. However, the estimated total project cost has amounted to $27.127M thus the additional allocation this year to complete the project. Classified as critical, the ongoing projects have a duration date of January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2010, and are intended to improve accommodation for students.
Last year concerns about the state of the school, particularly the roofing, had been highlighted prompting corrective action by the Education Ministry. Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh, had disclosed then that with a $5.6M capital expenditure afforded through budgetary allocation, the Ministry of Education was prepared to replace the roofing of the school’s Science Laboratory, which was at the time in a deplorable state.
His disclosures came as a result of reports that teachers at the institution had undertaken industrial action because of a number of factors, including the state of the roof. However, Baksh had asserted that had concerns been brought to the attention of the Ministry prior to the industrial action, measures would have long been put in place to rectify the problem. He related then, too, that over the years the Ministry has been spending a vast amount of money on the institution.
“Recurrent and capital expenditure for 2007 was $163M; in 2008 $168M, and in 2009 $186M, to keep President College going. In addition to that we built a dormitory, which was completed in 2008 at a cost of $84M because it had burnt down. So we are spending a lot of money…”
He said that President’s College (PC) has been receiving money just like other subvention colleges such as Queen’s College to run the affairs of the school.
And to ensure that there is equity with the monies spent at these institutions, Baksh related that the Ministry has been looking at the expenditure patterns through a study called ‘Comparative Analysis of funding patterns among secondary schools’.
“We have found in terms of a per capita recurrent cost for President’s College that we are spending $283,918 for each student compared to $108,000 at Queen’s College, at Bishops’ High School $58,000, and Tutorial $21,000. We have to bring some equity in the expenditure pattern.”
The Minister noted that apart from the capital and the refurbishment of PC, it has been recognised that increased sums are being spent there, which is also reflected in the cost of maintaining the dormitories. He revealed that the spending per capita in the dorms at PC amounts to $448,000 per year even as he highlighted that at another subvention school – Anna Regina Multilateral – the cost was only $130,000. “You can see the differential in the cost of running these institutions,” the Minister noted.
As a result, he said that the Ministry has set up a joint task team with the board of President’s College and the Ministry to look at restructuring of non-teaching and non-academic areas for services being provided, as well as the staffing.
The sum of $21.4 billion has been budgeted for the education sector this year. A total of $800 million will be directed to the national school feeding programme, which according to Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh, will benefit 47,000 students in nursery and primary schools. Some $940M has been allocated for the expansion of technical and vocational training which will be used in the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of facilities and the procurement of tools and equipment.
Meanwhile, in excess of $880M has been allotted to teachers’ training this year. In further spending for the education sector, $2.4 billion will go towards construction, maintenance and rehabilitation of dormitories and nursery, primary and secondary schools countrywide.
Additionally, the University of Guyana has been allocated over $700 million to run its Turkeyen and Berbice campuses. Added to that, the government has set aside $450 million for student loans.
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