How free is education?
Stabroek News
December 11, 2001

Dear Editor,

In Guyana, we speak of education given to Primary, Secondary, and Nursery school students as free, but I have noted and discovered otherwise.

In some primary and nursery schools, students are asked to bring money each month to pay cleaners, to buy chalk, and other writing tools, to purchase classroom aides, to purchase toilet tissue, etc. Students have to shorten their pocket money and contribute it for these purposes.

Recently, a parent told me that her child had to pay $1000 each month for the buying of toilet paper for the school lavatory facility, and also chalk. She also said teachers asked students to take Christmas decorations at school to decorate the classroom. Aren't they going too far? Aren't they putting financial strains on the parents of these children?

Suppose a child doesn't have anything to take, suppose that child stays at home, because of shame that their classmates can take stuff to school and they can't? This "taking things to school" situation can lead to so many problems.

Does our Ministry of Education know about this? Do they know what the teachers are doing? What happens to the parents of children who can't afford Christmas decor and money to buy learning materials? The woman told me that she bought a $300 decoration for her child to take to school. This is really nonsense.

I don't know about Christmas decorations, but I know that the ministry is supposed to provide chalk, pay cleaners, buy aides, etc.

Yours faithfully,

Leon Suseran