11,000 education cash grants were not uplifted, dishonest persons will be charged – Manickchand
A second round for the distribution of the ‘Because We Care’ cash grants for school students was conducted on Thursday, offering accommodation to parents who could not uplift during last month’s countrywide four-day distribution exercise.
Just under 11,000 grants were not uplifted in the last bout.
At Queen’s College, parents from across Georgetown turned out to uplift the cash payout. Two parents, Nalina Smith and Leon Daniels told the News Room that the cash grants will enable them to purchase textbooks and other necessary school clothes.
“It’s going to help me a lot…with this, I am going to buy clothes, boots and some fine stuff. I am grateful for it,” Daniels said.
Education Minister Priya Manickchand visited this site where she told reporters that this second phase was done to ensure that parents who want the cash grant can access it easily.
She notably pointed out that not every parent has expressed a willingness to accept the grant but the distribution will allow those who do, the opportunity to receive.
“When you’re dealing with 200,000 children you will have some people who had real and urgent circumstances on that day where they couldn’t pick up and the government is very keen, we want parents to have this grant,” Manickchand told reporters.
She said persons would not be left without the grant simply because they could not uplift it at the initial stage. However, she explained that this is the final day that parents will be able to uplift the money.
“This is what is happening here, the scheduled second day, second and final day to pick up. I want you to note that auditors are here also, so you’ll see auditors from the auditor general’s office,” she added.
For a parent/guardian to uplift the cash grants, the child had to be registered before July 31 and would be turning out to school in September.
Some of those collecting in this second round were only able to register their children during last month’s distribution.
“Of everybody who is entitled, only just under 11,000 of everybody did not pick up from the last exercise so today if everyone turned up, it would be just under 11,000 but we don’t expect that everybody will turn up,” Manickchand explained.
The Ministry has noted that two envelopes went missing during the first distribution. But this was quickly addressed because of how accountable the entire process is.
However, there have been instances where the ministry took legal action to ensure that persons were being honest in the process.
“We had to call in the police in at least two instances, I believe in one of those two instances a person is actually charged for receiving the grant when he was not entitled nor authorised to,” the education minister stated.
She further said, “We have taken action fully on any kind of hanky panky that happened, [but] we didn’t see a lot of it.”
Further prompted about consequences for persons who already collected the grant but attempt to collect a second time she said, “They will be charged there are many different criminal offences that will be committed there and they would be charged [but] the thing is that can’t happen because if you turn up today for say, St Ambrose, we have the St Ambrose list where the parents who already picked up on the first occasion would have signed and if your child’s name is on that list, you can’t get it today.”
The ‘Because We Care’ grant is valued at $25,000 this year and the School Uniform and Supplies Grant is valued at $5,000, giving a total of $30,000 for each child in the education system.