Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand defended the $94.4 billion allocated to the education sector in the National Assembly, standing firm that it is in line with the government’s goal of providing quality and equitable education for all students.
The Minister highlighted that despite the increased student population of 193,000, the budgeted sum for education equates to roughly $237,000 per child, which is higher than the allocation made in 2019 by the previous government of $100,000 per child, with a population of 185,000.
She explained that a large part of the allocation will be spent on infrastructural works on education facilities countrywide.
The Minister reminded the house that in 2019, $3.7 billion was allocated to the education capital budget under the coalition, of which 58 per cent or $1.6 billion was returned to the treasury.
“They [APNU+AFC] couldn’t spend it because it’s not important. Access and building schools and institutions is not important,” she said.
Minister Manickchand further highlighted that in 2017 the then government allocated eight per cent of the education budget to capital works; 2018, six per cent and in 2019, nine per cent.
In 2022, the PPP/C Government made available 23 per cent of its allocation to civil works, and in 2023, 33 per cent has been set aside.
“That is because sir, providing access to the children of this country, is hugely important to the goal of getting quality education delivered to our children,” the education minister explained.
In its quest to achieve universal secondary education, this year, in Region One, schools will be built at Hosororo, Kwebanna and Waramuri. The North West Secondary which was destroyed by arson will also be rebuilt.
In Region Two, the Abram Zuil Secondary School will be completed, while two secondary schools will be constructed in Region Three at Tuschen and another on the West Bank.
In Region Four, the Yarrowkabra and Good Hope Secondary schools will be completed. A new school will also be constructed at Prospect. In Georgetown, the St Mary’s, Christ Church, St George’s and North Ruimveldt secondary schools will be reconstructed.
In Region Six, a school will be built at Orealla, Jawalla in Region Seven and Karasabai in Region Nine. All the multilateral schools will also be rehabilitated.
“Mr. Speaker, this is our capital programme, the APNU+AFC built not one single secondary school in their five years,” Minister Manickchand said.
While noting the importance of education to nation building, the Minister said, “Education is valuable and that is the only way to permanently and certainly change the trajectory of any country… If we cannot agree on those, then we need to have a relook at what our role might be or what we believe our role might be in this house.”
Last year, the Ministry spent 99 per cent of the of the capital budget and 98 per cent of its current budget.