The Alim Shah Stores have been re-added to the list of entities for the school uniform voucher programme just in time as the distribution for the new school terms begins.
According to a business representative, the stores’ Regent Street, Georgetown; and Rose Hall, Berbice branches have received official notification from the Education Ministry that it “is pleased to be partnering” with the business in this year’s School Uniform Voucher programme.
The letter was signed by Ms Patricia Stephen, Assistant Secretary to the Education Ministry.
Alim Shah Stores started to accept school uniform vouchers since last week after being assured by the Ministry’s chief accountant that the business continues to be on the official database despite the advertisements which have appeared in the press in which the business is not listed as being on this year’s programme.
The proprietor, Alim Shah, was concerned at the omission and felt that it was reprisal from the Government for the columns that his daughter, Ryhaan Shah, writes for Guyana Times.
In an invited comment to this publication, he expressed relief to have received the official notification since both stores had already ordered and started preparing their stock of school pants, shirts, underwear, haversacks, and other items for their back-to-school business.
He said that the business has built up a good working relationship with the Education Ministry over the years and he expects that the good relations will continue under the new Administration.
Interestingly, when Shah initially raised concerns of being dropped from the programme, the Education Ministry immediately released a statement positing that the business was at fault.
The statement explained that the Ministry noted that it publicly advertised for ‘Expressions of Interest’ to participate in the Uniform Voucher programme in 2016 and that the business under the name Alim Shah never indicated any interest in participating in the programme, hence their name would not have been on the published 2016 list.
“They subsequently communicated with the Ministry, indicating that they erroneously assumed that since they were on the list in previous years they would have automatically been included,” the statement noted.
According to the Ministry, the matter has since been resolved with the entity.
Distribution of vouchers
Meanwhile, the Ministry is ready to distribute approximately 150,000 uniform vouchers to parents and guardians of children attending public schools in Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Four (Demerara-Mahaica), Five (Mahaica-Berbice), Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), 10 (Upper Demerara), Bartica, in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Georgetown, in Region Four.
Each voucher is valued $2000 – an increase from $1500 in previous years, and is valid until October 31, 2016.
Parents are reminded that vouchers are intended to be used for the purchase of school items only and that all vouchers can be redeemed at participating businesses/suppliers, a list of which has been published in the press and is available at the respective schools and regional departments of education.
A valid form of identification is required to uplift the voucher.
Every child attending a Government school is entitled to uniform assistance under the National Uniform Programme. On the coastland, the Education Ministry administers the Uniform Voucher Programme while in Hinterland communities, the assistance is administered by the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry.
Public schools will be closed for a period of eight weeks from July 11 to September 2, 2016.