Parents in flood-affected Reg. 5 eager to buy tablets, school supplies with cash grant
By Vishani Ragobeer
Residents in Region Five (Mahaica- Berbice), particularly those who live along the Mahaica and Mahaicony rivers, were severely impacted by the recent nationwide flooding but with the distribution of the Ministry of Education’s ‘Because We Care’ cash grant, they are eager to buy much-needed school supplies for their children.
Nirmala Mohabir and her seven-year-old son travelled to the Karamat Primary school, which is located near the Mahaicony River, in a small boat that appeared as though it has been frequently used. She paddled into the creek and docked her boat near the dam that leads to the school.
There, Mohabir joined dozens of parents and children who were awaiting the commencement of the distribution of the $19,000 cash grant given to each child.
“You know the situation in the creek,” she told the News Room, “Everything duck – the cow, the rice meh husband used to plant (and) the bottom house flooded.”
Intense rainfall coupled with higher-than-normal tides resulted in many of the houses situated on the banks of the Mahaicony River, where Mohabir lives, becoming severely inundated. Now, the water has started to recede but the water level in the river is still noticeably high.
With the water only now receding, however, she said that the cash grant is a welcomed initiative since it will help give her family a “lil boost” to buy school supplies, as they try to recover from the flooding.
“This lil money gon help to do something for them, at least put them fuh learn lil bit more, buy lil school clothes (or) buy something they need,” she said, later adding, “… or even lil greens and meat to give them fuh eat fuh them look lil nice.”
In fact, the mother said that she intends to purchase an electronic tablet for her son so that he can engage in his online classes and if there is any money remaining, she would purchase household items that would provide some greater comfort to the family.
Mohabir was not alone. Reyanna Torres, a single parent to two young children, who has faced difficulties due to the flooding and the pandemic but welcomed the cash grant.
At the Mortice Nursery school along Branch Road in Mahaicony, another mother, Marcia Morrison said that she was going to use the cash grant to purchase an electronic tablet for her son so that he can comfortably attend his online classes and also watch videos uploaded online by the Guyana Learning Channel.
This, she explained, is a particularly sound investment since her son has been using her cellphone over the past few months to attend his classes and interact with his class teacher.
Though electronic tablets seem to be a much-needed item to facilitate access to online learning, prompted by the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, Neetu Singh, who works as a cleaner at the Karamat Primary school, said that managing online classes has been difficult for her son.
Her son, an 11-year-old, has been preparing to sit the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) in August but he has had to rely on the textbooks and worksheets provided since mobile data is quite costly for the family.
As such, Singh was hopeful that there would indeed be a return to face-to-face classes come September. And, upon that return, she will use the cash grant to purchase her son’s school uniform and other school supplies.
While launching the distribution of the cash grant at the Karamat primary School on Sunday morning, the Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand announced that a total of $196 million is expected to be distributed to the 10,324 pupils and students across Region Five.
“We believe it is important to support our families, we believe it is important to give you the hand you need,” she said, later adding: “We will never think that an investment in families and children is a waste.”
Importantly, she explained to the parents that the intention beyond giving each child $19,000 cash is to allow parents to spend it in any way they see fit, that will bring comfort and benefits to the pupils and students.