446 scholarships issued by PPP/C Govt since August 2020
– scholarships valued over $80M
Since taking office in August 2020, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration has issued some 446 scholarships for both local and international studies totalling more than $80 million.
This was revealed by Public Service Minister Sonia Parag in response to questions asked by her predecessor, Opposition Member of Parliament Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, in the National Assembly.
In her written response, Minister Parag noted that a total of 39 scholarships was awarded locally, amounting to some $16.1 million. This includes some 34 scholarships to the University of Guyana (UG) to the tune of $13.2 million.
Three scholarships were also granted for the Guyana School of Agriculture totalling some $855,000. Additionally, one scholarship each was issued to Art Williams and Harry Wendt Aeronautical School and Texila American University to the tune of $880,000 and $1,100,000 respectively.
The Minister pointed out that in excess of $67 million in scholarships was issued for studies overseas. Of these 35 scholarships, seven were study leave with pay while two were donor-funded.
In addition, the Minister disclosed that of these 446 scholarships issued since last August, 26 are being facilitated online.
“It must be noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most scholarships awarded are of an online nature,” the Minister noted.
Moreover, the 446 scholarships were distributed across all 10 administrative regions of Guyana.
Most of the 226 was awarded in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), while Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) received 51, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice) got 45, and Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) 42.
Twenty-three scholarships were given to Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), while Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) got 21 and Region One (Barima-Waini) 14.
Region Nine (Upper Takuku-Upper Essequibo) received 10 scholarships, while Regions Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) got seven each.
President Dr Irfaan Ali has promised to grant 20,000 scholarships to Guyanese over the next four years. In fact, in the 2020 Emergency Budget, the PPP/C Government had earmarked over $1 billion for the award of scholarships for both local and overseas studies, as well as training of public servants.
At a press conference last August, mere weeks after assuming office, Minister Parag had disclosed that the system for vetting scholarships was heavily flawed under the David Granger-led regime.
“What I have found is that the system that we have for vetting scholarships is heavily flawed. That is what I have personally observed, and that is something that I plan to review and change. If I may say, it is skewed to one demographic and geographic in Guyana. That has been going on for the last five years,” the Public Service Minister had revealed during a virtual press conference.
For persons who had applied before and were denied, or those who were facing other difficulties, the Minister said such will be looked at on a case-by-case basis. The entire system will be reviewed to ensure that these services benefit all stakeholders.
In fact, back in August, Guyana Times had reported that a medical doctor was denied six times when he applied for scholarships or sponsorship to study neurology under the APNU/AFC Administration.
Dr Jason Ramcharran had studied in Cuba from 2008 to 2015. He recorded almost perfect scores in all the subjects he covered in both theory and practice.
After returning to Guyana, his first posting was at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC), but Ramcharran, who hails from La Penitence, Georgetown, always aspired to be a neurologist. He first applied for a postgraduate scholarship to study neurology in China in the 2016/2017 academic year, but was told that his application was refused because of limited scholarships, and “due to the competitive nature of the selection process”.
That same year, 2016, he had approached the Government for sponsorship to do his post-graduate studies in Cuba after being accepted by the University of Medical Sciences Havana to do the neurology programme. But he got another rejection letter. This pattern of rejection continued on four more occasions.
However, Dr Ramcharran was subsequently awarded the scholarship by the PPP/C Administration.
According to Minister Parag, her most urgent task is to ensure that those Guyanese who returned from scholarship programmes are adequately employed. She underscored that one of her main goals, as she embarks on this new journey, is to have the citizenry involved, especially the young people. As such, her aim is to see Guyanese of all walks of life benefit from scholarships.