Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 August 2022, 21:35 by Denis Chabrol
Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton on Tuesday promised that if the coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) is reelected in 2025, it would forgive the more than GY$10 billion in University of Guyana student loans.
“We will also write off all student’s debt and pay an education stipend to students. Moreover, we will work together with UG to increase its involvement in and impact on national development,” he told a news conference.
Both APNU+AFC and the now governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had promised the electorate to scrap tuition fees for UG, a publicly funded tertiary institution. On Tuesday, he said tuition fees for UG must be scrapped immediately.
He noted that for several decades now, many Guyanese have paid to study at UG and they still owe the Ministry of Finance through which the loans are obtained by students and paid to the university. “All University of Guyana student debt must be canceled,” he added.
No official figures were immediately available, but the then APNU+AFC government had said that GYD$10 billion worth of 28,936 loans issued so far since 1994, 20,301 are delinquent.
Mr Norton, in the interim, called on the Irfaan Ali-led administration to provide financial support to UG students to help them pay for internet, transportation and other expenses. “We reiterate our call for student stipends to help with internet, transportation and other expenses that do not appear on any University invoice, but are expenses students must bear nonetheless,” the Opposition Leader who is also the Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) said.
The APNU+AFC coalition said it would work with the UG administration on initiatives to “produce a regular stream of competent graduates to serve in the oil and gas sector and, more generally, to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving Guyanese economy for other skills.”
Up to about 1994, UG tuition had been free of cost but students had been required to participate in Guyana National Service (GNS) activities especially in the hinterland. The GNS has long been abolished.