There has been significant positive feedback to President David Granger’s promise earlier this month that his Government will restore free education using revenues from the oil and gas industry.
However, Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Gerry Gouveia does not support this investment. He believes those who can afford to pay for their education should be made to do so.
“I think it is a noble thing he (President Granger) is doing, that free education should be for people who cannot afford it and so Government is able to put more money into the people who need to be supported and people who could afford to pay for their education must do it,” he told the News Room in an interview at Duke Lodge, Kingston, Georgetown.
He posited that monies should be invested in healthcare, social services, infrastructure, Agriculture, Tourism, manufacturing, reducing electricity costs, and education as it relates to increasing salaries for teachers and better teaching facilities.
In order to determine who cannot afford to pay for education, Gouveia said a suitable system can be put in place.
“I think free education is not sustainable forever,” noted.
“I think it is a noble thing but I think we should continue to have private schools and people who can afford to send their children will send their children. It gives the Government an opportunity to use their resources to give better education value to people who can’t afford it.”
The PSC Chairman, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Roraima Airways, said free education without proper facilities and well-paid educators is not worth it.
“We must have public schools that are well equipped with teachers that are well paid,” he said.
His fear is that the Government will move to ban private schools, something which he said was done in the past but did not prove feasible.
After the President’s announcement, most persons celebrated the opportunity to attend the University of Guyana free of cost.
In this regard, Gouveia said no one must be barred from pursuing their tertiary education due to economic constraints, however, he said “we have to start discussing the modalities –how do we make this free education something that is effective and sustainable over the next 100 years, rather than starting it and we can’t continue it.”
The President in his speech on August 1 said there should be free education from nursery to tertiary. He noted that a primary school should also be in every village to ensure each child attends school.
With General and Regional Elections expected within a few months, the opposition People’s Progressive Party has also promised free education if it is re-elected to Government.