$72,000 savings per child taken away, as Gov’t scraps school bus initiative

Reports over the past few days have shown pictures of school buses all across Guyana that have been abandoned and left to rot near seawalls and in front of regional offices by the PPP regime.

A brainchild of Former President David Granger, the Five ‘B’s Initiative was launched soon after the APNU+AFC Government took office in 2015. The program which involved providing school children with: Breakfast, Books, Bicycles, Boats and Buses- saw the Government in collaboration with the Private Sector providing school children with the resources needed to get to and from school and ensure they stay in school.

The School Bus initiative, according to one leading economist, was a very comprehensive approach to solving the high number of school dropouts each year in Guyana.  He noted, “School buses are a major part of the education system in developed countries around the world, no country can develop without an effective education system which prioritizes learning by making education easily accessible to all its citizens. ”

According to the economist, the David ‘G’ School Bus Initiative saved parents approximately $72,000 or more each year on travel expenses to send a child to school. He provided the following breakdown of how much it cost a parent in transportation to send a child to school in different parts of Guyana, taking into consideration that a child attends school approximately 180 days in a given year:

The numbers above represent the lowest estimated cost per Child and could be more in some other areas, he argued.

Soon after its installation of the regime following the controversial March 2020 elections, the Irfaan Ali regime scrapped the program and replaced it with a $30,000 one-off cash grant-removing a guaranteed method of children getting to and from school free of cost. The aim of the cash grant according to the Education Ministry is to assist parents in the purchase of school supplies. However, there are reports of parents using the money for things not associated with the child’s education needs.

The lack of equity in the distribution of the cash grant drew strong criticisms from an article published in the Kaieteur Newspaper in May of this year. The Kaieteur News- May 18, 2022, reported, “A while ago, after the National Grade Six Assessment results came out, a video appeared on social media showing a father giving his daughter what appears to be a gift of about $5M for her success at the examination.

Under the PPP/C’s ‘Because We Care’ cash grant, this multi-millionaire parent will be entitled to the same cash grant as that poor child from rural Guyana who was crying while complaining that he could not attend school because some days he did not have food.”

Further, “The ‘Because We Care’ cash grant is inequitable. It is not a targeted grant and therefore, it can never derive the objectives which it set itself – that is to increase enrolment and attendance. Those billions that the PPP is using to give the grant to both the rich and the poor can be used to provide transportation for poor children. But don’t tell that to Priya!,” the report said.

More, In The Ring.