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Former Education Minister wants government to maintain $10,000 school grant, says PPP never planned to stop program

A mother and her two children filling out the requisite form upon receipt of their cash grant (GINA photo)

by Zena Henry

Former Education Minister Priya Manickchand has denied claims that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had planned to scrap the former government’s ‘Because we care’ $10,000 school cash grant after elections and urges that the initiative be maintained to help poor families.

Manickchand was reacting to reports that the new government would no longer continue the initiative which it claimed was a put-together move by the former government to rake in votes during the recently held 2015 elections.

Manickchand, in a Facebook post, by the PPP youth arm, said that she was saddened to learn that the government would be terminating the program.

 This program, she said, “Started by the PPP/C government saw each public school child in Guyana entitled to $10,000. The grant was meant to assist parents to send their children to school by helping to pay for transportation etc. It was complimented by other programs again started by the PPP/C government such as the uniform assistance program where every child in the public school was entitled to assistance to purchase uniforms and/or school supplies and the school snack program where every child in public school in Guyana from nursery to grade 2 was in receipt of a snack or hot meal.”

She said parents from all over Guyana reported how beneficial the ‘Because We Care program’ was to their families. “The PPP/C fully intended to continue this program and said so in its 2015 election manifesto,” the former education Minister charged.

She hoped that the new government “who promised positive change will revisit its harsh decision and reinstate this program.”

It was reported that Harmon made the disclosure that government was not going to continue with the program. He was quoted as saying by a media entity that, “The whole thing was badly administered and it was used as an election gimmick and a lot of people didn’t benefit from it…”

The government, Harmon said, would not take the blame for discontinuing the project since he claimed the PPP intended, -if they had won the election- to stop the money. When the program commenced in October of last year, thousands of households were expected to benefit and even though the majority of parents said the money was not enough, many from all stratum of society did not pass up the opportunity.

Likewise, grumbles have already started with the new government’s intention to stop the program. The government has laid out its own plans for the education sector with Minister of State touting an audit of the sector to holistically revamp the education system.