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“If we can’t open back school now, we’re wasting time” – Education Minister.

Education Minister Priya Manickchand has reaffirmed her Ministry’s position on the reopening of school yesterday, saying that all stakeholders will be ‘wasting time’ if school cannot be reopened. The Minister was then speaking at the opening ceremony of the Government’s $19,000 per child ‘We Care’ initiative, which was launched on Wednesday on the Essequibo Coast.

Minister Manickchand said there can be serious consequences if schools remain closed.

“The longer the child stays out of school the more likely the child is to suffer from ‘learner lost,’ that means a lot of the things which they learnt, they will forget, and that will be accompanied by premature school leaving, or dropouts… we don’t want that.”

The Minister told parents that if schools cannot be reopened now, they would’ve wasted years of their investment in education. “If we can’t open back school now, we’re wasting time… If you can’t do that for your children you are wasting time…You’re dooming them not now; but you’re dooming them for life, you are dooming them for a life of poverty.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, some measures have been implemented in an effort to sustain the delivery of education. Apart from worksheets and the Guyana Learning Channel, an online education delivery programme was implemented, with the aim of providing quality content to learners.

The Minister hinted that these are inadequate, especially for children on the Essequibo Coast, saying, “You have poor internet service; we can’t reach your children with the fancy online education. We need to get your children back in school.”

Some parents told us that they are willing to have their children return to school.  Aubrey Tyrellri, a parent said that he wishes school could be reopened in the morning.

“The interest is still there in school. My big daughter is writing cxc and the second one is going to stream, We do give them extra lessons and the online class, but it’s not sufficient, I wish school could reopen by the morning.”

When asked if he is concerned for the safety of his children, he said, “I’m vaccinated and would like to tell the parents out there to take the vaccine and let the children get back to school… We have a lot of parents saying they don’t want to go and take the vaccine, but they have it [COVID] spreading.”

Sabrina Ram, who had received the $19,000 cash grant on behalf of her form four son, said that she intends on using the money for passage when school reopens. “he told me he has school during the holidays, so I told him at least he has passage now, because charity to Anna Regina is a great distance to travel.”

Savitree Tulsidass, another parent who spoke to this publication, said that she would also be making preparations for her child to return to school. She added, “I will be using the cash grant to shop for school clothes and electronics.”

Since there are some parents who are concerned for the safety of their children, the Minister encouraged persons to get vaccinated against COVID-19. “We have been out of school not because we wanted to, but because the world was faced with covid, at the time we closed school there was no way of stopping the spread of covid, because there were no vaccines at the time the only thing that could have been done was stay in and avoid physical gathering.

She went on to say, “That has changed from last year to now, we now have something that can stop the spread of Covid; the vaccine. This government has made the availability of vaccines available to anyone who wants to have it.”