In her efforts to fight back at Opposition claims of discrimination by the Government of Guyana, Minister of Public Service, Sonia Parag revealed during her Budget debate presentation that of the over 7,000 GOAL scholarships given out by the Government in 2022, 46.3% of the scholarships were provided to Afro-Guyanese.
“The total number of GOAL scholarships awarded in 2021 [was] 6,000; the total number of GOAL scholarship awarded to Afro-Guyanese was 2,558 – 42.6%. The total number of GOAL scholarships awarded in 2022 [was] 7,410; the total number of GOAL scholarship awarded to Afro-Guyanese [was] 3,430 – 46.3%,” Minister Parag detailed.
At the time, she was defending the $781.9B Budget as the debate commenced in the National Assembly on Monday.
In terms of the distribution of scholarships by the Regions, it was revealed that more than 3000 scholarships were provided to persons residing in Region 4 while Region 3 received just over 1400 and Region 6 received 894 scholarships. Over 500 scholarships were handed out to residents of Region 10, the Minister told the National Assembly.
She said the Government is not in the business of discrimination, and also noted that two sitting Member of the Opposition in Parliament are also recipients of scholarships from the current government.
“With the $1.8 bilion allocated in this year’s budget, we will surpass the target of 20,000 scholarships in 2023, two years early. So, Mr Speaker, by 2025, we would have substantially increased the number from 20,000. Another promise delivered,” Minister Parag told the House.
The issuance of the government scholarships, she said is in keeping with Government’s vision to modernize the Public Service, of which, 69.5% of all employees are Afro-Guyanese.
The Public Service Minister also announced that the attendance at the University of Guyana will be free by 2025.
“Mr Speaker, the University of Guyana will be free to Guyanese, it will become free before 2025. In the meanwhile, scholarships are offered to Guyanese, ordinary Guyanese to have the opportunity to go to the University of Guyana, so that they may enhance their skills, to fill the gaps that is so needed in the Public Sector, and that is what PSM would do for human capacity building,” she said.
As part of its Manifesto, in the lead up to the 2020 Elections, the PPP/C had assured Guyanese of free tertiary education. The government has repeatedly stated that it will make good on that promise before the next elections.