Jul 23, 2021 Letters
On July 15, President Ali Administration launched its “Because We Care” programme, which will benefit 172,000 students across Guyana. The government will inject a record G$3.2 billion into assisting families by providing $4000 to buy school uniforms and an additional grant of $14,000 to help with other supplies. I can’t think about a better way to spend taxpayers’ dollars. In one stroke, the Administration is setting out a plan for the continued development of Guyana by having a skilled and educated workforce.
Sadly, almost immediately APNU-AFC came out shooting from the hip. Their criticism is that the programme is a “waste” of the State’s resources. I would have expected that from the APNU-AFC, everything is seen through the lens of politics, but not from the Guyana Teachers Union. Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) General Secretary, Coretta McDonald is quoted in one of the dailies as saying “If you do that for five years, check and see how much money this Government is wasting foolishly.” She offers no alternative to this plan. I would like to point Ms. McDonald to some recent studies that were done by the Brookings Institute (Pulliam and Reeves, 2021), which clearly documents the rewards to society and economy by investments in education.
While the study was done to evaluate the Biden child tax credit plan, we can extrapolate to also see the benefits for us in Guyana. President Ali’s plan does exactly this, which is impacting future generations.
According to the study, when you invest in children you cut child poverty significantly, especially among the poorest in our society. Helping our children will have immediate benefits such as improving educational outcomes through higher test scores, improved socio emotional health for children and their relationships with parents. In addition, the student’s body mass index increases. The study also suggests that the long-term effects are improved human capital, which benefits everyone in our society.
Some will argue that the allowance disincentives parents from securing employment. There are no studies that I have come across that show any correlation. This is a red herring argument. In fact, several reputable peer reviewed studies show that unconditional payments for children show the opposite. As an educator and parent, I do agree that more needs to be done. The Ali Administration should increase future grants to students and may want to consider a monthly grant, as oil revenue increases, to children who are in school. Investment in our children and their education is the best way to improve our nation.
Sherlock Depoo, MBA; M.S. Ed.
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