2014 Education Bill could help ministry get information from private schools

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The Education Bill that was presented to the National Assembly in 2014 could help the Education Ministry get much-needed information from private schools.

This is according to the newly crafted Education Sector Plan for the period 2021 to 2025; this plan was launched at the beginning of September, coinciding with the observances for education month 2021.

As part of this plan, efforts were made to analyse access to education in Guyana. It was, however, noted that the lack of comprehensive data from private schools is one challenge for the education ministry.

“While the ministry does not receive information from many private schools, it is estimated that the private sector in education accounts for less than ten per cent of the number of students,” Chapter Two of the plan stated.

The plan, however, noted that the ministry can use data from the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Examinations to estimate the number of children in private schools.

Still, it was noted that under the current Education Act – which was last amended in 1976 – the Education Ministry cannot compel private schools to submit data to its statistical unit.

“A new Education Bill which has been drafted and which had one reading in Parliament would provide that authority but the Bill has been stuck for an inordinately long time without being passed,” the plan stated.

Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand

This bill was tabled in the National Assembly in 2014 by Minister of Education Priya Manickchand; it seeks to replace the existing 1876 Education Act that was last amended in 1976.

It was reported that this bill would help reform the legal framework for education in Guyana, but the 2014 bill was only read once and it was not passed.

Under Guyana’s current Education Act, all public schools must keep a register of learners that details the children’s name, date of birth, address alongside other biographical data and contact information.

And, it is this register that has allowed the education ministry to make the $3.2 billion allocation to adequately cater for the total cash grant distribution to all public school children.

This is not mandatory for private schools, however. Still, in July, Minister Manickchand told the News Room that the government was exploring the distribution of cash grants to private school children, too. As such, a register of learners attending those schools in Guyana would be necessary to allow the ministry to determine the sum that can cater for the disbursement of the grants to these children too.

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