Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has responded to claims made by Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton that the government’s plan to implement free university education is a mere “political gimmick”.
Norton’s comments were made in response to President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali’s announcement that the government intends to gradually introduce free education at the University of Guyana, a commitment outlined in the People’s Progressive Party/Civic’s (PPP/C) manifesto.
Dr Jagdeo expressed his disagreement with Norton’s position and reminded him that it was the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) who increased fees at UG during their time in power.
“We’re a political party, we make promises to the people, we made promises to the people. You can’t blame us for fulfilling our promises that we made … by calling it a political gimmick. We don’t see it as a gimmick, we made a promise,” the vice president expressed at a press conference held at the Office of the President on Thursday.
The Vice President explained that the government promised to achieve free university education within five years and that they are exploring a phased approach to achieve it.
President Ali has revealed that this approach will first address existing loan students, and according to the vice president, the government is working on establishing clear and consistent rules that will be applied to everyone.
“Effectively, we’re already doing free education from now, because we’re planning to write off what you have to pay. Effectively we’re doing that (and) Norton saying we’re not doing it fast enough,” the vice president expressed.
The administration has also rolled out the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL) programme, which saw the government partnering with prominent universities around the world to offer courses tailored to meet Guyana’s existing needs.
So far, 20,000 scholarships have been awarded to persons since the launching of the programme in 2021. This again, demonstrates yet another manifesto promise being fulfilled. [DPI]