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Free land, higher salaries for teachers, professors- opposition coaliton

Last Updated on Friday, 24 April 2015, 3:32 by GxMedia

Teachers are being promised higher salaries and other benefits by the opposition coalition if it wins next month’s general and regional elections.

While A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) did not provide any idea of how much teachers’ salaries would be increased by, it said in its manifesto that free land and duty free concessions would be given to teachers and professors.

APNU+AFC Executive Member Cathy Hughes later issued a statement saying that it was “concerned about the dissemination ofan incomplete and unofficial document purporting to be the coalitions’ official manifesto. While substantial parts of the document contain policy initiatives that are currently being discussed, it can by no mean be considered an approved statement of policy of both the APNU and the AFC.”

APNU+ AFC presidential candidate, David Granger is on record as pledging that teacher salaries’ would be increased as part of a major stimulus package for the education system to prepare Guyanese for the development of the country. Currently, some Graduate Senior teachers take home less than GUY$100,000 (US$480). Another component of the manifesto offers a 10 percent initial across-the-board increase in salaries to government employees prior to the reintroduction of Collective Bargaining. Law enforcement personnel are being promised a 20 percent across-the-board salary hike.

Donor countries, according to the manifesto titled ‘Our Vision for Unity, Stability and Development,’ would be asked to send education professionals to Guyana to work and possibly settle permanently with appropriate incentives.

Should the major opposition secure victory on May 11, 2015, it plans to transform the University of Guyana (UG) into a major Caribbean research centre and make it South America’s leading English Language teaching institution. Guyana is the lone English-speaking country on the continent, while mots of the other countries are Spanish speakers. Brazil, Suriname and French Guiana speak Portuguese, Dutch and French respectively.

UG, under an APNU+AFC led administration, intends to target foreign students from the Caribbean, Guyanese Diaspora, Brazil, Suriname and other countries.

In an effort to reduce the male drop-out rate, a coalition-led administration intends to “distinguish between male and female learning and devise learning strategies accordingly.”

APNU+AFC’s plans for the education sector also include the establishment of a computer lab in each primary and secondary school, meeting the nutritional and transportation needs of primary and secondary students, and making Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Mathematics, Engineering and Information Technology a major focus.

Linking the curriculum to Guyana’s needs, ensuring equal access to education, tapping into the expertise of the Diaspora and implementing aspects of the broadly agreed National Development Strategy (NDS) are among the key points in the education component of the manifesto. “Education is the key to social transformation. Therefore, APNU+AFC have several strategies aimed at boosting the vital sector. In addition, APNU+AFC intend to revisit and implement several recommendations of the National Development Strategy,” states the coalition.

After leaving school, youths are expected to take advantage of employment opportunities such as the assembling of desktop computers. “Further, an APNU+AFC government will only buy locally assembled desktop computers, giving priority to companies within the administrative region. This will create in excess of 2,000 jobs in the 10 Administrative Regions,” states the manifesto.  The coalition-led administration intends to expand vocational training of youths to feed apprenticeship incubators and so “create  tens of thousands of new sustainable jobs for the youths of Guyana.”

The manifesto states that students 16 years old would be offered internships in government entities, and the Private Sector would be provided with incentives to do likewise.

In the areas of sport and culture, the coalition wants to provide cost of living support of GUY$50,000 per month each to 100 talented athletes and 100 talented artists and musicians.

Primary school students eligible for bi-annual medical check-ups and vaccinations, the coalition says, will be provided free transportation to doctors and health clinics.