Govt remains committed to human development – Harmon
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon on Saturday said that the increase in the number of Government scholarships awarded since May 2015 is evidence of Government’s commitment to national development and the eradication of poverty and ignorance.
Minister Harmon, who was at the time speaking at an orientation session for awardees of Government scholarships, held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC), said Government’s budgetary allocation to the education sector was also a sign of its commitment to the sector.
Scholarships have increased from 464 for the period 2011 to 2014, under the former Administration to 1251 between 2015 and 2018 while the current allocation to the education sector is over $52 billion.
Minister Harmon said the David Granger-led Administration, since taking office, has placed education at the top of its developmental agenda, since it was recognised that there was a shortage of trained personnel in almost every field while pointing to the disparity in the provision of public services.
In recognition of the deficiencies within the public service, Minister Harmon said, the Government took a conscious decision to focus heavily on education.
“Our commitment to education development and training was reflected in the allocations for education in national budgets that have from 2015 to date, been increased constantly and incrementally from $33 billion in 2015 to $52.2 billion in 2019. President David Granger, then Opposition Leader while speaking about the opportunities for development that were available in an address to graduates of the Cyril Potter College in 2012, said that those opportunities can be achieved only by people with a first-class education. We, therefore, upon our assumption of office in May 2015, committed to a programme of continued and continuous training to provide adequate and suitable manpower resources at all levels to complement the legislative and administrative changes being made to encourage capital investments and to create an enabling environment for sustainable development,” he said.
The Minister of State said it was against this background that the National Scholarships Programme should be viewed. In addition to local scholarships, the Government of Guyana has continued to provide awardees with opportunities to study in the United Kingdom, United States, Japan, China, Cuba, Russia, Canada, India and Mexico. These awards have increased significantly over the years as the period 2015 to 2018 saw 316 overseas scholarships being awarded as against 191 for 2011 to 2014.
In addition to the increases in scholarship awards, measures have been taken to make the process of selection fairer, transparent and relevant with the appointment of a Scholarship Awards Committee within the Department of Public Service. That Committee is responsible for interviewing and recommending applicants based on merit.
“This year, there are 47 awards for the Guyana School of Agriculture and 167 for the University of Guyana. You represent the best of those who applied for scholarships since the system now in place for selection scholarship awardees is transparent and meritocratic. Scholarship awards since 2015 have to be viewed within the context of our Government’s policy on education and our regard for the education sector. There can be no doubt about our Government’s commitment to the education and training of our young and not-so young people,” Minister Harmon said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Public Service, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine congratulated the awardees while urging them to put the Government’s investment to good use. Dr Roopnaraine said the Government would continue to invest in the education sector so that every Guyanese could have access to higher learning.