Apr 23, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Following the Government’s opening of the application process for Scholarships under the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL) initiative, Opposition Member of Parliament (MP), Tabitha Sarabo-Halley has raised several concerns.
She did this via a recent submission to the National Assembly in which she posed several questions and pressed for a response from the Minister of Public Service, Sonia Parag. The GOAL initiative which was introduced by the PPP/C administration, in keeping with its manifesto promise, seeks to grant 20,000 online scholarships to Guyanese and represents a collaboration between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Public Service.
In her submission, the MP asked whether recipients of the scholarships are expected to sign contracts with the Government, if they will be expected to join the Public Service upon completing their individual programmes, and if an official needs assessment was conducted to give guidance as to the current and future skills need of the public service and the country.
She went on to query whether Parag provided the National Assembly with any document that shows the number of skilled personnel the public service and Guyana needs, including the number needed per sector; whether Parag would be able to produce any document clearly outlining how the programmes being offered were decided upon and if she could provide the members of the National Assembly with a copy of the contract that the scholarship awardees will have to sign.
Sarabo-Halley did not stop there. She also asked the Public Service Minister if she could provide a detailed breakdown of the process being implemented to ensure that there is equity and equality in the awarding of said scholarships; and if she could explain the process and who will determine who the recipients of the scholarships will be.
Yesterday, this publication contacted Parag in a bid to solicit a response to the questions posed by the Opposition MP, however, she explained that a notice document of the questions have not yet been given to her, adding that she would issue a response to the questions once that is done.
Notably, Parag and Sarabo-Halley have been constantly clashing over scholarship related issues since the new administration took office last August. The most recent clash was at the Budget Debate in February.
During her speech, the Opposition MP had called attention to the Government Scholarship that was granted to her under the APNU+AFC administration, positing that she has no apologies for it.
In response, during her budget speech, Minister Parag lambasted Sarabo-Halley for thinking that it was justifiable to grant herself a scholarship, adding that the government had no record of her ever completing her studies under the scholarship, which is said to have amounted to over £10,000. “How does the former Minister juxtapose this against the award of full scholarships to two of her Cabinet colleagues and the children of another, while brilliant young Guyanese coming from vulnerable groups are denied the opportunity to further qualify themselves? The complaints have been manifested and it is from that standpoint I made such a statement,” Parag lamented. She also affirmed that it was wrong for Sarabo-Halley to grant scholarships to the children of former ministers; Nicolette Henry, Annette Ferguson and Simona Broomes, when she could have awarded them to financially disadvantaged persons.
Sarabo-Halley is not the only person that has publicly questioned the GOAL initiative. In fact, Guyana Elections Commission Commissioner, Vincent Alexander, in a letter carried in Kaieteur News’ April 21, 2021 edition, sought to highlight issues that need to be addressed to make the initiative effective. Those issues will be examined in a subsequent report.
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