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Guyana government promises free education to university students; can Belize achieve the same?

Posted: Wednesday, December 30, 2020. 2:20 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: In four years’ time, says President of Guyana Dr Irfaan Ali, students attending the University of Guyana (UG) will be doing so for free, as part of its revamp of the education system, the Caribbean Media Corporation reports via the Jamaica Observer.

“We are providing 20,000 scholarships. We hope to provide free education at the University of Guyana by the end of 2024. In our Emergency Budget for 2020, we made provisions for doubling the uniform allowance and increasing, by 50 per cent, the cash grant per student from $10,000 to $15,000. We are committed to increasing this by almost 300 per cent in the coming years.”

President Dr Ali has made education a top priority of his administration, promising residents of the mountainous community of Kato in Region Eight (Potaro–Siparuni), that they will soon receive an Information Communication Technology (ICT) hub in their community, which will provide internet access, and reintroduce the One Laptop Per Family Initiative from 2021.

Presently, education is free from nursery to secondary levels at all Guyana state-run schools.

Guyana is one of three Caribbean states that elected a new government in 2020, Belize and Suriname being the others.

And the People’s United Party administration under newly appointed Education Minister Francis Fonseca has made similar promises of free education from ‘ABC to UB (University of Belize)’; moreover, it promises to revamp the curriculum and train 100 percent of teachers, as well as make the system more relevant to students and incorporated with the national growth and development policy.

However, in its first few weeks in charge it has had to make cuts in payments for Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) examinations due next year due to COVID-19-related financial issues. It will pay for three examinations at CSEC level including English A and Mathematics rather than the previous six.

The University suffered a cut in its financial stipend under the Barrow administration, prompting readjustments to staff and other expenses which were protested by the newly-formed University of Belize Faculty and Staff Union (UBFSU) earlier this year.


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