Use oil revenues to fund free tertiary education – GTUC
Days after the University of Guyana Students’ Society (UGSS) had come out calling for free tertiary education, the General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Lincoln Lewis, had called for future oil revenues to be used to fund free education from the nursery to the university level.
The call was resonated by Lewis during the Labour Day Rally held at the National Park.
“We call for the provision of free education from nursery to university, as enshrined in the Constitution, Article 27…
“Tek some ah de money that alyuh gun get from oil, go in the National Assembly, Bharrat (Jagdeo) and Moses (Nagamootoo), and mek plans. We want free education. We want an educated nation,” Lewis said.
The trade unionist was cheered on by the large crowd as he reminded the ministers present that they had benefited from free tertiary education in the past.
Prior to this call, he had also demanded better health care services in all 10 administrative regions across the country.
“Labour calls on Government to revamp the health care system so that all 10 administrative regions could have a main referral hospital with modern diagnostic and treatment capabilities, including emergency facilities capable of dealing with severe injuries… A healthy nation is a productive nation,” Lewis had declared.
His calls for better health care come at a time when drug shortage in particular has been plaguing the nation’s health system. Moreover, most health posts across the country are generally unable to cater for severe ailments, hence the reason for many being air-dashed in recent times to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC).
Many had flagged this as an issue in the past, as patients tend to lose their lives while being rushed to the institution.
On the other hand, calls for free tertiary education have surfaced at a time when, only recently, the University of Guyana (UG) announced an increase in tuition fees.
The hike has been criticised by many students, and even workers attached to the University’s Turkeyen Campus, as they bashed the facilities and conditions under which they are forced to operate.
Just over a week ago, the UGSS had staged a walk-out to highlight their discomfort with the fees, as they believe that free tertiary education is their right.
President of the UGSS, Devat Ramroop, told Guyana Times that the University has been hiking tuition fees much to the dislike of the students. She said that most persons who attend the University are already under a lot of financial strain, and increasing the fees would mean that some students may be forced to drop out.
Single parents, the UGSS President added, would also be forced to amend their budgets just to ensure that their children complete their studies and hopefully find a job amidst reports of the high unemployment rate.
“So (in) 2017 we had a 15 per cent increase, then in 2018 we had 10 per cent; and now in 2019 we’re having another 10 per cent,” she complained.
The student body’s request for free tertiary education comes at a time when UG is bracing itself for a financial audit of its spending, as it has been accused of lavish disbursements in insignificant areas. In the meantime, this publication was told that the Auditor General’s Office has already commenced the preparatory stages to kick-start the audit.
The University of Guyana Workers’ Union had first requested a financial audit of the spending of the University, as UG is allegedly unable to properly account for its expenditures and, more so, offer a salary increase to its staffers, although tuition fees have been increasing annually.