Govt touts e-school, paying fees for private education amidst teachers’ strike

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
The smart classroom at President’s College

Even as teachers continue to strike for higher wages, the Government is looking at several options to modernise and expand the education system. The options to be examined include full-time online schooling and funding for private education.

Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday told media practitioners that the e-school model will be available to parents who prefer this method of education for their children. “If we have a proper e-school model then parents can choose that rather than physical school but a child must be able –even going through an e-school system – to have the same level of tuition and have the same level of success as if they were going to physical school,” he explained.

In relation to funding for private schools, the Vice President touted the provision of school fees to parents to send their children to private schools.

He said: “We have to, in the future, examine whether we’ll give parents a voucher to send their children to a private school or not, because if we’re spending $700,000 now per child and it costs $300,000 to pay for the school fees for the child, we might as well give, in some areas, the parents the $700,000 per child and then let them pay for the school kids.”

Jagdeo said this will present more opportunities for private schools in Guyana, even as he boasted of the six thousand teachers trained in the past four years.

The teachers, however, are currently on their second prolonged strike for 2024.

Responding to questions surrounding the strike action led by the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), Jagdeo said the Government is open to continued negotiations but this must not be done under duress. As such, he echoed similar sentiments to his other Government colleagues that the teachers must return to work to allow fruitful discussions.

He further warned Head Teachers against intimidating their subordinates to strike, noting that those who engage in this practice, should not enjoy the concessions granted by the Government including duty free. “You have a freedom to strike, you can withdraw your labour but you shouldn’t intimidate others who wants to go to work,” Jagdeo said.

Representatives of the GTU, the Labour Ministry and the Education Ministry are expected to meet again next week to resume talks, aimed at finalising an agreement on the payment period for salary increases for teachers.

This is the third time the Labour Ministry will facilitate conciliatory talks between the GTU and the Education Ministry since the resumption of strike action on Thursday, May 9, 2024.