A petition calling for the removal of the 14 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on private education was delivered to the Ministry of Presidency, Finance and Education on Friday by members of the Student Council of the School of the Nations.
The petition, which was done both online and on paper, reached about 14,000 signatures. It was submitted to President David Granger; Finance Minister, Winston Jordan and Education Minister, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine.
Director of School of the Nations, Dr. Brian O’Toole, said that the petition was started by the sixth formers and has since been supported in great numbers from students attending a host of private and public schools.
According to the Director, the majority of students attending private educational institutions in Guyana are from humble backgrounds, and can only attend these places of learning as a result of the sacrifice of family members.
“In a number of cases, these same students may now be forced out of these schools because of the additional 14 percent tax,” Dr. O’Toole pointed out.
He said that there are now 1200 students in Guyana pursuing diplomas from the Association of Business Executives (ABE) which is only offered in private schools.
“At Nations alone we have more than 850 persons pursuing these diplomas. These courses are also soon to be introduced at our branch of Nations in New Amsterdam,” Nations’ director said.
He added that while it has been said in the media by members of the Cabinet that those students have a “choice” that is, the public school; it is because of the limitations of the public education system that thousands of parents in Guyana have made the sacrifice to move to private education.
O’Toole noted that, “But, as Minister Jordan acknowledges, ‘public education is not at the stage it should be.’ Is the choice then to return to the very system that is in need of such help? The same decision to opt for private education has indeed also been made by a number of government ministers for their own children.”
The director said too, “If the ‘choice’ is then to return to the very system that Minister Jordan says is the subject of a Commission of Inquiry, how will that system now cope with the return of literally thousands of students to classrooms that are already overcrowded and under resourced.”
It was also stated in the media by Minister Jordan that many of the 54 private education providers are not “tax compliant” and are in fact operating under some umbrella of “charter school “status and therefore not liable for tax,” O’Toole stressed.
O’Toole, and directors for other private schools, are calling on the government to rethink the addition of VAT on education.
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