Jeffrey defends education progress, inclusivity in government
Guyana Chronicle
April 15, 2004

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DEBATE on the 2004 budget continued in the National Assembly yesterday with Minister of Education, Dr. Henry Jeffrey presenting a report on progress in the education sector.

He said $33M was spent in 2003 on the construction and rehabilitation of schools and that $277M will be spent this year.

Some $660M will be spent on the purchase of textbooks this year.

He noted that while school hours amount to 30 hours per week it is three times higher in developing countries and hinted at the implementation of shift systems.

The minister also spoke of the appointment of an Assistant Chief Education Officer (CEO) and significant progress in the revitalising of Physical Education in schools, saying PE will soon be an examination subject at Caribbean Examination Council.

During his presentation, at the 29th sitting of the Eighth Parliament of Guyana in the Convention Centre of Ocean View International Hotel, Liliendaal, Jeffrey rebutted claims by Mr. Ravi Dev, the Leader of the Rise Organise and Rebuild (ROAR) party, that there was a lack of inclusivity by the Government.

Dev said his contention could be verified by the state media refusing to print most of his letters and excluding him on the television.

The minister noted the need to look at "the meat of the matter". He pointed to the forming of committees and countrywide consultations that transcend the participation of party affiliated individuals and special interest groups, saying these initiatives attest to inclusivity.

Jeffrey said he would hate to live in a country where 90% of the population forms the Government with no real opposition.

The minister noted that demonstrations would not cause people to change their votes, and that most Guyanese regretted that the members of the PNC were not sitting in parliament.

In his lengthy presentation, Dev described the budget as "regressive, not progressive." He said it doesn't offer much and therefore cannot project any significant growth.

He likened boasts about the budget being stable to a person in a stable condition but in a coma.