Oct 11, 2015 News
As the Government of Guyana seeks new ways to improve the education system, President David Granger has said that the provision of transportation for schoolchildren, particularly those in poor communities, will go a long way to improve access to education.
Therefore, the Head of State said, strident steps will be taken to do as much as possible to get as many children as possible into schools.
President Granger made the statements during the Education Ministry’s Education Rally held on Friday at the National Park.
During his address, Granger noted that across the country, particularly in rural communities and villages, many children do not attend school for one reason or another.
He shared that a few months ago – as part of his birthday wish – a boat was made available to transport schoolchildren in the Pomeroon River area. He said that in such areas, travelling expenses are hefty and too many parents are unable to afford to send their children to school.
“Children in the Pomeroon River were not getting to school; they had to pay $5,000 to get to school at Charity. Some of them on the West Coast Berbice pay $5,000 to go to the Berbice High School. Every week, many parents who cannot afford the minibus fares simply do not send their children to school,” the President said.
He added that while many children are enrolled in school, the government will play its role in ensuring that the children actually made it to school. Therefore, he said, the Guyana Government is looking towards providing school transport for children. This school transport, he added, would also extend to teachers.
He said that the means of transportation will not be limited to boats but will also include buses and bicycles.
Noting the boat transportation initiative launched in Charity, Granger shared that the business community has been responding favourably and has offered means of transportation.
“The important thing is that children must go to school,” Granger emphasised.
He said that as part of the drive to get children into schools the Government of Guyana is also looking towards the provision of meals.
Granger noted that while children might indeed make it to school, many of them arrive there without even having a proper meal for breakfast or one waiting for them at lunchtime.
Speaking to the hundreds of schoolchildren, Granger said, “All of you don’t need to get a breakfast at school because you had a healthy breakfast at home but those who cannot afford it should look forward to having a breakfast when they get to school.”
Additionally, he said, another important factor to consider is the provision of uniforms and footwear.
“I have gone into every region of this country. Many of you are lucky that you can march from Parade Ground to the National Park but I’ve been to some villages in the Hinterland,” Granger said.
He continued, “Three o’clock, you’ll see the whole school coming out and not one child has shoes on; not because the road is muddy, not because they’re playing football; it’s because they’re too poor to have shoes.”
Granger indicated that as part of the programme to keep every child in school, a large part of the focus should be on ensuring that children are supplied with the necessary items to foster their attendance.
“This is a challenge which I give to the Ministry of Education, the Chief Education Officer and the Permanent Secretary.”
“We want to make sure that as far as our resources would allow us that we get every child in school.”
He added that while some of the current focuses, such as tackling truancy, were important, more attention must be placed on initially getting children into school.
“I don’t care about rounding up children at 10 o’clock on a Tuesday morning; I care about getting children to school at 8 o’clock on a Monday morning,” he said.
He continued, “Once they get in school, it’s up to the teachers to ensure that they learn their lessons.”
He said that the plan is to restore education standards to ensure that every single child is enabled to complete his or her education. He stressed that education must take this direction if the system were to succeed.
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