The questionable issuance of a cash grant voucher is currently gaining the attention
of the Ministry of Education. The matter is one which entails a $10,000 voucher being uplifted by someone other than the parents of Reyaid Baksh, a student of Uitvlugt Secondary School, West Coast Demerara,.
According to father of the lad, Saleem Baksh, his wife Nandranie Chandra on October 20 last visited the Uitvlugt Community Centre, along with many other parents and guardians, to uplift the cash grant at one of the many Ministry of Education-spearheaded cash grant distributions. The woman would endure two hours of waiting in line until her turn came to receive a voucher. But instead of signing and receiving the voucher like those who preceded her, Chandra was informed that the voucher was already uplifted.
The name and identification number of the recipient (which were seen by this publication) were shared with the woman, allowing her to deduce that the voucher was uplifted by a stranger.
The despondent Chandra was not told much more by officials distributing the vouchers. She returned to her Unity, Hubu, East Bank Essequibo home, and there informed her husband of the development. The man telephoned a school teacher who assured him that the matter would be investigated. However, several days went by, and Baksh was not furnished with an update into the matter.
Unwilling to let the matter go unsolved, Baksh decided to take his concerns to Alliance For Change (AFC) Councillor, Harry Narine Deokinanan.
While the possibility exists that it was an isolated case, it certainly aroused enough attention to be brought to the fore at a recent Region Three Regional Democratic Council meeting.
Deokinanan, in an invited comment, related that when the matter was brought to the attention of Regional Chairman Julius Faerber, he (Faerber) disclosed that the Region had absolutely nothing to do with the distribution of the cash grant and therefore could not sanction in the matter.
In fact Faerber, at the RDC meeting, informed too that the Ministry of Education altogether failed to share with him plans to convene cash grant distribution activities in Region Three.
Moreover, Deokinanan in investigative mode decided to visit the office of the Regional Education Officer (REdO) on October 21 last. He however was unable to meet the official, a situation that persisted for some time before he was informed that the matter was being addressed. Deonkinanan was told that Baksh would have been eligible to receive the voucher the following day.
However, to date there has been no explanation as to how the voucher was inadvertently issued. Assistant Chief Education Officer, Ms Doodmattie Singh, in a conversation with Deokinanan revealed that the Ministry is well aware of the situation and the parents will eventually be afforded a replacement cash grant voucher.
But Baksh yesterday told this publication that he is particularly peeved about the situation as no one has found it necessary to make him or his wife aware of any progress into the matter. Baksh and his wife also have a daughter attending the Stewartville Secondary School for whom uplifting a cash grant voucher was incident-free.
The Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Education for the first time this year introduced the $10,000 cash grant initiative per child as part of its efforts to ensure that an increased number of children attend school. The grant caters to all public school students at the levels of nursery, primary and secondary, and comes as part of Government’s efforts to support citizens, particularly those who are less fortunate.
The Ministry in early October commenced distributing the grant, but based on information reaching AFC Councillor, Deokinanan, in addition to the Baksh dilemma there are some 70 children of the Vreed-en-hoop Primary school alone who are also yet to receive their cash grant vouchers. According to Deokinanan, the Region Three REdO has since noted that it is expected that those students will soon received their financial support.
Based on reports out of the Education Ministry all issued cash grant vouchers must be en-cashed by November 30 at the various Western Union/Bill Express outlets, wherever they are located.
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