Education to get US$52M donor boost
Hinterland schools to be focused on

Stabroek News
December 4, 2002

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Guyana is to receive US$52M as part of a donor agreement for seven developing countries which aims to provide education for all primary students by 2015.

The agreement, termed the Education For All - Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI), was decided upon at a November 27 meeting of representatives of the international donor community, comprising mainly G8 countries, in Brussels, Belgium.

Under the EFA-FTI agreement Guyana will be granted some US$52M to benefit mainly the hinterland regions to achieve education for all by 2015, Education Minister Dr Henry Jeffrey said yesterday noting that the main beneficiaries under the agreement will be hinterland schools and teachers. A press release from the donor meeting indicated that there were some 15,000 students out of school in Guyana.

The EFA-FTI, aims to help countries prioritise primary education for all children and embrace policies that improve the quality and efficiency of their primary education systems.

This is in keeping with the United Nations Millennium Development Goal to provide every boy and girl with a complete primary school education by 2015.

Jeffrey told Stabroek News that it was the first time that the donor community has agreed to finance hardship allowances for teachers working in the hinterland. This means that some teachers will see hardship allowances increase from $2,000 to $12,000. The hinterland Regions 1,7,8 and 9 are being targeted along with teachers working in remote communities of Upper Demerara/ Upper Berbice.

Under the agreement Guyana will obtain US$5.2M for 2003 to 2005; US$18.3M for 2005 to 2010; and US$29.8M for 2010 to 2015.

The objectives are to reduce the imbalance between the coastland and the hinterland regions in access to education; improve the quality of the teaching force; increase the retention rate of trained teachers in the regions; establish a healthy, supportive and child friendly environment; improve pupil performance; improve the pupil completion ratio in the hinterland; improve pupil attendance; increase school/community partnerships in the schools' decision-making process; and to improve extra curricular activities.

A large amount of the funds has been budgeted for the school feeding programme which for the period 2003 to 2005 will account for US$3M; 2005 to 2010, US$11.3M; and 2010 to 2015, US$19.9M. Jeffrey said the EFA-FTI programme would complement the BEAMS programme being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank which targets both primary and secondary schools.

According to a World Bank release issued through the Ministry of Education yesterday, the other countries to benefit under the agreement are Burkina Faso, Guinea, Honduras, Mauritania, Nicaragua and Niger.

Among the countries to benefit, Guyana has the highest primary school completion rate of 86%. Dr Jeffrey noted that the completion rate on the coast was very high but below half in the hinterland regions hence the need for the assistance.

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