Mar 27, 2013 News
— in quest to aid poverty reduction
Premised on the need to help reduce poverty and support personal development while fostering national development, the Government has this year allocated the sum of $28.7 billion to the education sector. This significant chunk from the $208.8 billion national budget will in fact contribute to a grand total of $139 billion being plugged into the sector over the period 2008 to 2013 to finance its National Strategic Plan.
At least this is according to Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, who in his budget speech on Monday emphasized that the sector is currently engaged in the development of a new five-year strategic plan.
This year, he explained, the physical infrastructure of schools and other educational facilities countrywide will benefit from an investment of over $3 billion. He noted that this would include the construction of Kato Secondary Complex which provides for 350 students, the reconstruction of One Mile Primary, and extensions to Alexander Village Nursery, East Street Nursery, St. Barnabas Special School, Tutorial Academy and Tagore Memorial Secondary, rehabilitation of St. Rose’s High, and maintenance of other schools and educational facilities countrywide.
Of the total amount provided, $1.1 billion is budgeted for the School Feeding Programme which will see over 64,000 school children benefitting from either juices and fortified biscuits or a hot meal, added Dr Singh.
In addition, the school uniform programme will continue to reduce the financial burden on families and will see one school uniform distributed to every child attending a school in the public education system from nursery to Grade II.
Further still, the Finance Minister disclosed that emphasis will continue to be placed on increasing the presence of trained teachers in the classroom, and some 409 newly trained teachers are expected to enter the education system in August 2013.
He said another 41 teachers will complete the requirements for certification under the Trained Teacher’s Certificate Programme and a further 68 in-service teachers in Regions One and Nine will continue to access the Trained Teacher’s Certificate, while 366 students will continue to access the Associate Degree in Education at the coastal centres and Linden.
In an effort to strengthen the management and quality of staff members, lecturers and administrators training will be conducted to ensure use of ICT in the delivery of the curriculum, Dr Singh affirmed.
“Moreover, this move will complement the 35 IT labs which are expected to be completed in 2013, while 3,000 teachers will be trained in ICT literacy, bringing the sector closer to the target of having all secondary schools equipped with computers and all secondary teachers trained in the use of computers for education delivery.”
Also the Finance Minister noted that Government will continue to invest in the University of Guyana with an allocation of $1.7 billion, including student loans of $450 million. A feasibility study for the new Centre of Excellence for the Study of Bio-Diversity and a management and personnel study of the University’s human resources will also commence this year.
Additionally, through the US$10 million project to strengthen the School of Earth and Environmental Science, Minister Singh said that technical assistance and other support to lecturers would be provided to programmes relevant to the LCDS, while grants would be provided to researchers towards generating knowledge products that directly contribute to the LCDS. In support of this, 14 laboratories in the Science and Technology Faculties will be rehabilitated, while full internet connectivity will be provided to all faculties and the library.
“This project represents a major Government investment in the University and in particular in its science and technology teaching and research capabilities,” the Finance Minister stated.
Included in the total amount provided to the University is a sum of $50 million to be provided by Government to promote greater access to tertiary level education by establishing online programmes.
Last year, Government allocated the sum of $26.5 billion to the education sector and of that amount, $2.9 billion was spent on construction, extension, rehabilitation and maintenance of additional educational facilities countrywide to ensure increased access.
In an effort to increase enrollment and attendance rates of children in schools, as well as reduce the dropout rate, over $1.2 billion was spent on the School Feeding Programme, which benefitted over 64,000 students, Dr Singh disclosed.
Additionally, $296.7 million was spent on the National School Uniform Programme which benefitted over 190,000 children in nursery, primary and secondary schools. Significant gains, he said too, have been made in increasing the percentage of trained teachers in the public education system. Further, 2,965 teachers were trained in ICT.
Amounts totalling $1.3 billion were expended to equip and staff technical and vocational institutions which, according to the Minister, continue to provide an alternative education pathway for youths. Another $1.3 billion was allocated to the University of Guyana, of which $450 million represented loans to students.
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