Current students of the University of Guyana (UG), and those who have already graduated, have consistently lamented over the issue of the imposed tuition fees.
Although they have grown accustomed to the 35 percent hike in tuition fees that were implemented in 2017, the students at UG are frustrated over the increases in the institution’s administration. With increases ranging from 20 to 100 percent, students had to now pay increases for over 28 different Administrative / Services Fees.
And with every passing day at the university, according to students, it seems to become a burden for them in the financial aspect.
The Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Article 149H, addresses the right to education (10 of 2003). It explicitly stated that, “Every citizen has the right to free education from nursery to university as well as at non-formal institutions where opportunities are provided for education and training.”
University education was free from 1976 up until 1995.
However, Leader of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C), Bharrat Jagdeo, revealed that an economic and financial downturn in the 1980s resulted in then PPP/C government to impose the introduction of tuition fees at the university.
Jagdeo stated during his weekly Thursday press briefing, “There was a time in the 1980s when Burnham said free education, and then the economic circumstances changed and then from the Hoyte era upwards, you started not having enough resources.”
He recalled a period when Guyana was declared an “uncreditworthy” state to borrow monies, and some 153% of revenue was redirected to service debts.
“When a country does that, how do you have to invest in education?” he questioned at his Church Street office.
Jagdeo further explained that many of the economic circumstances of the country were underpinned in the resources of the 1970s, when the prices of bauxite, sugar prices were high and profits were being gained.
“They built programmes on high prices that never lasted, and then the debts started accumulating. At a certain stage, the debt was over 900% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and they couldn’t pay the debt.
“That’s when most things slid; we had triple digit inflation. It was just $3000- odd when the exchange rate was $120-something for one,” the Opposition Leader explained.
Jagdeo goes on to relate that the country cannot “divorce” where we are today from our economic history.
“Often you track the economic history of the country and then you will see how it impacted on various policies. As we started paying off the debt, we started expanding now—the cash grants to school kids, etc.”
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