Budget 2022 will tackle learning loss, fund recovery of children – Edu. Minister

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Education Minister Priya Manickchand during her budget debate presentation on Wednesday told the National Assembly that the sectoral allocation was done with the intention of tackling learning loss and funding the recovery of children who continue to be affected by the COVID 19 Pandemic.

A total of $74.4 billion has been allocated to improve access to education and education delivery in the 2022 National Budget.

Manickchand said the Opposition was clueless to assume that the budget was not geared towards helping with learning loss.

“There is no line-item name learning loss. It’s the policies and programmes that we have put in place that will help recovery, that will fund the recovery of children in this country,” Manickchand told the National Assembly.

She noted the government’s intention to provide free extra lessons to students at all levels this year and said the school feeding programme was among the government’s investments to tackle learning loss and help with the recovery from the COVID pandemic.

“School feeding is one part of the investment in the recovery of learning loss,” the Minister added.

Manickchand accused the former APNU+AFC government for failing to ensure equitable distribution although they had expanded the school feeding programme.

With a further expansion this year, a total of $2 billion has been allocated, targeting 85,773 pupils across 902 coastal, hinterland and riverain nursery and primary schools.

“You would recall that we were told in 2016 that the cash grant was being abolished so it could go into school feeding.

“…Three schools in region six benefited, zero benefited in Linden… zero benefited in Region Two, six benefited in Region Five… none benefited on the East Bank but this year while we give the cash grant we are also extending the school feeding program.”

Manickchand also talked up the $6.6 billion allocated towards education facilities, including the commencement of construction of the Prospect Secondary school, in addition to the reconstruction of North Ruimveldt and North West Secondary schools, both destroyed by fire last year.

Another $295.7 million will be spent on providing approximately 11,000 electronic tablets and flash drives loaded with teaching materials at the primary and secondary school levels. This is a result of the known technology challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Allocations have also been made for procuring more textbooks and science kits.

Of particular note, the Education Minister said that the government will be continuing with the GOAL scholarship programme to allow more Guyanese to further their education. As such, $1.3 billion has been allocated to meet the costs of another 4,500 scholarships and for 2,726 continuing students. About 6,000 scholarships were given in 2021.

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