Education Minister rubbishes APNU+AFC criticisms of Commonwealth of Learning Online scholarship initiative

Last Updated on Friday, 4 September 2020, 22:29 by Denis Chabrol

The Ministry of Education, Brickdam, Georgetown.

Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand late Friday night denied claims by A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) that an international Online learning initiative was aimed at hoodwinking Guyanese and capturing their personal information.

She said the Commonwealth of Learning has related that if  Guyanese do not register through the Ministry of Education they would have to pay for the courses being offered by Coursera.

The opposition APNU+AFC coalition questioned the authenticity of the arrangement between the Commonwealth of Learning and the Ministry of Education (MoE). ” MoE is collecting applications in what appears to be a data gathering exercise, under the veil of actual work. A disclaimer at the end of the application indicates that an applicant should expect to be contacted from Coursera directly to start a course. The application does not provide applicants with the option to choose any course of their own interest,” the coalition said.

But Ms. Manickchand said Guyana is one of several Commonwealth Caribbean member nations that would be benefitting from the arrangement between the Commonwealth of Learning and the online learning platform, Coursera.

The Education Minister explained that participating States were required to set up their individual systems to enrol participants. “This was the requirement of us. We had to build a platform to take off the registration. That is what took the time for me to announce,” Ms. Manickchand said.

“There is an excuse by a bunch of bitter defeated people who had this since May and did nothing with it!,” she told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM / Demerara Waves Online News.  She said Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, St.Lucia, and Grenada were also arranging local enrolment in keeping with arrangements between Coursera and the Commonwealth of Learning.

The Commonwealth of Learning informed the local office of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) of the availability all 4,000 short courses (not degrees) and 400 specialisations free of cost under a scholarship programme aimed at retooling people, who have lost jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with new skills to reenter the job market.

Ms. Manickchand charged that “APNU is being idiotically obstructionist. All they say can and will be disproved.”

The Commonwealth of Learning said Commonwealth Member States can enrol their unemployed citizens in any of the Coursera courses through September 30, 2020, and learners can complete courses and obtain certifications by December 31, 2020. Coursera courses are taught by 200 of the world’s leading university and industry educators attuned to the need of equipping people with skills for employment.