$135M in grants distributed to schools in Reg 5, 6

The Education Ministry’s school grants initiative continued on Monday in Regions Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), which saw $135 million being distributed.
The grants were distributed to 72 schools in Region Five, amounting to $47 million. In Region Six, $85 million was distributed to 129 schools. This caters to 954 children in Region Five and 1653 in Region Six.
The monies are going directly into the hands of teachers who are tasked to improve their students’ learning experiences. In Region Five some 9200 children stand to benefit while in Region Six 21,354 children will benefit.

Minister Manickchand interacting with pupils at one of the schools

The grant is being distributed under three headings – janitorial, office, and field – with $1000 per child for janitorial and $3000 for office and field needs.
The funds can be used for various purposes such as purchasing items needed to keep the environments clean, office supplies such as charts/cardboards/chalk, or whatever needs the teacher believes need to be filled.
Each teacher will be getting $4000 per child on the coastland while the $5500 per child will be distributed in the hinterland and riverine communities.
The initiative was officially launched last week in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara).

Teachers of Region Six during the distribution exercise

However, on Monday, Education Minister Priya Manickchand during the distribution exercise explained that the monetary grant is aimed at addressing the constant calls by teachers for school items to be used in the classrooms.
School supplies had been coming through the regional administration and had not been meeting all of the needs of the teachers.
“Your Region got $50 million for all of you for one year. I am bringing here today $47 million for one term,” Minister Manickchand told Head Teachers in the Mahaica-Berbice region.
She noted that giving the teachers the money directly would give more independence them, and allow them to choose what they want to use.
“If you have a class or school with less than 56 children, you will get the value of 56 children – $224,000 because although it is a small number of children, you still have cleaning, you still have to make aids and all those things to do,” she pointed out.

Minister Priya Manickchand in discussion with some of the teachers in Region 5

To ensure a transparent process, Minister Manickchand told the Head Teachers that a list would be provided to guide teachers on their purchases while encouraging them to utilise the grant in innovative ways.
“This has to be strictly accounted for so in the same manner whereby you have accounted for public monies you have to account for this. We want you to get receipts from where you bought stuff and it is going to be audited.”
In some sections of society, there have been calls urging the teachers not to take the money, claiming that it is insufficient and that teachers should demand $50,000 per child.
Responding to this development, the Minister reiterated that the funds will help greatly. The initiative will be taken to all the administrative regions in the coming weeks. (Andrew Carmichael)