Keeping schools open should be Guyana’s top priority

Dear Editor,
Keeping schools open should be Guyana’s top priority. In December 2021, just last month, a report published by the World Bank titled “The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery” estimated that globally, this generation of students risk losing $17 trillion of collective lifetime earnings due to the closure of schools because of COVID-19.
This is a serious projection that must be curbed by all means necessary, Mr. Editor, especially for developing countries such as Guyana. The report says that each school year that a child benefits from translates to 10% higher income in many countries.
Similarly, more years of schooling translates to higher employment prospects, and it is already accepted that individual earnings have an impact on national earnings and the performance of a country’s economy. There is a direct link between the educational attainments of citizens and a country’s economic growth.
It is also widely accepted that education is the one sure way that a person can remove themselves from a life of poverty to live a comfortable life at least. As stated in a recent letter I wrote, schools globally have been closed for over 18 months. Already, there are students in Guyana who will be earning 10% less than they would have if they were in school during those 18 months. This is in addition to the over 1000 students who dropped out of school at the primary level, along with a significant dropout rate at the secondary school level, as reported by the Ministry of Education in September last.
I believe that this will have an impact on Guyana’s economy years down the line, when these students become adults and find themselves in a state of poverty. It will have an impact on our social services, and will regrettably lead to an increased crime rate. I hope at this juncture that we see the importance of keeping our school doors open. We need to keep schools open.
How else are we to ensure that the nation’s children can comfortably earn an income to support themselves and families? How else are we to reduce crime? How else are we to fill the workforce with skilled and competent Guyanese to be a part of our local content for the oil and gas industry? We need to keep schools open.
Schools need to remain open for the sake of our children’s future and the future of our country. All that we do now should be done with keeping our children safe and in school. That should be our priority.

Maureen Matthews