Guyana to get funding in global Education for All initiative -Jeffrey
Stabroek News
April 24, 2004

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Guyana will be among the first four countries to become eligible for funding under the global partnership Education For All - Fast Track Initiative, Education Minister Dr Henry Jeffrey said this week.

In a radio message marking Education For All Week, the minister noted that the initiative was established by the World Bank to assist in funding the attainment of the 'education for all' goal as well as the Millennium Development educational goals.

He referred to the meeting of 164 countries at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal in 2000, when they restated their commitment to Education For All: the right of all children to a good primary education by 2015 and the achievement of gender parity in primary education by 2005.

"They also committed (to the principle) that no country would be prevented from achieving these goals for lack of funding," Jeffrey said.

Under this programme, in 2004, government will spend an additional $11M establishing learning centres, $30M upgrading school utilities and $350M on the supply of text books. The education minister also disclosed that some $60M will be spent to provide an additional remote area allowance for over 700 teachers since the existing hard-lying allowance of just under $6,000 per month is perceived as inadequate to attract teachers to the hinterland.

He noted that one of the main considerations is that of equity, which is the cornerstone of the country's education strategic plan, and which is rooted in the National Development and Poverty Reduction strategies.

While acknowledging that for decades the various governments have been committed to universal primary education, he pointed out that there were still serious regional disparities that need to be addressed.

The primary completion rate is 87.8% on the coast but only 64.4% in the hinterland, the education minister stated. The administration hopes to achieve an overall 100% completion rate by the end of the period.

Moreover, it is hoped that the number of trained teachers would be increased from 32% to 74% in the hinterland and 53% to 68% on the coast, thus providing 191 extra, trained, hinterland teachers and 692 extra on the coast, Jeffrey said in his radio message according to a text supplied by his ministry.

"By 2015, the repetition and dropout rates should also decrease by 10%," he added.

The ministry therefore was facing many challenges in trying to improve education delivery, the minister said. He noted that government spending on education is now 19% of the national budget and that has allowed programmes to be pursued for improving the pupil-teacher ratio, and lowering of the repeat rate among other gains.

Jeffrey said it was recognised that the country's resources were still far short of what is necessary to achieve the Education For All goals, so government had accepted the funding under the special Fast Track Initiative.