Minister of Education Priya Manickchand insisted that the 2013 budget has something for everyone and urged the Opposition to partner with Government to approve the allocations therein since it would lead to the country benefiting.
She said that more money will go towards the people of the country and noted that the budget was crafted to meet the needs of large sections of the population.
“The 2013 budget has done something that we can all marvel about,” she said. “For the first time, more money will go to more people in our country to help them in their personal development and to help them develop the country as a whole,” she said.
“Minister Singh is asking us to overcome our challenges together and to accelerate gains for Guyana. We do not reject or resent any kind of constructive criticism but what we say is come with us and work with us to overcome these challenges and accelerate the gains that we have made. Don’t come postulating about sharpening your instruments…that is not helpful to the people of Guyana,” she said. “We could only help our people if you [be constructive and put our minds together],” she said.
“We call on the Opposition today…there is time and space for this destructive behaviour that has gone on here before to change,” she said. “There is space for us to hold hands and take Guyana forward and it is up to us in this House to strengthen our resolve to do what we have to do to make our country a better place,” she said.
Turning to the specifics in the estimates, the Minister said that said that over the last five years, allocations to the education sector averaged 15 percent of the budget.
She pointed out that Guyana leads in the Caribbean when it comes to early childhood education and this is something to be celebrated. She said that the proportion of trained teachers in this level of the education system has risen from 56 percent to 67 percent.
“Those billions that are going to be expended in the sector are going to be spent on our Guyanese children,” she said.
Manickchand said that Guyana has attained access to universal primary education. She explained that this means that children all over the country can access primary education. “We are moving to attain universal secondary education,” she said.
She said that the country has achieved universal secondary education in Regions 2, 4, 3, 7, 8, 9 and 10 and Georgetown. She said that with the allocations in the budget the country will achieve universal secondary education in regions 5 and 6. She said that this will entail the extension of a number of secondary schools in those regions.
“I am happy to report in this House that with the measures that the PPP/C has put in place over the last couple of years we have seen a reduction in the number of children dropping out,” she said.
“In 2005-2006 we had from the general secondary school 7.5 percent of the population or 1,900 of our students dropping out. By 2010 we had a reduction [to 4 percent]. We are talking about 800 to 900 children that stayed in the school system,” she said.
“We are concerned as I am sure other members of this House are about every single child who leaves school early, we are concerned that the child may not be prepared for the world that faces them, we are concerned that we are robbing ourselves of the benefit of a child who is properly prepared to help to develop Guyana,” she said.