Former Minister of Public Service, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley has fired back at the new Minister of Public Service, Sonia Parag over her statement that under the previous government, scholarships were “skewed to one demographic and geographic in Guyana”.
Ms. Sarabo-Halley in a statement this morning said Ms. Parag may need to familarise herself more with the work of the Government scholarships programme and the Department of Public Service before making statements.
Sarabo-Halley said she is sure that when Minister Parag actually gets a chance to look at the data she would have no choice but to recognize that “it is her statements and beliefs that are skewed and not the management of the scholarships department over the last 5 years”.
The former Minister explained that the scholarships awarded were consistent with applications received, adding that if candidates from a particular ethnic group applied for scholarships more than others then the scholarships awarded will be consistent with that fact.
She said over the past five years, the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs was allocated a fixed percentage of scholarships by the Department of Public Service annually, so it is impossible for the new Minister to “just look at the names of persons and determine their ethnic origin”.
It was also noted that under the APNU+AFC administration, the scholarship selection committee was reconstituted to represent the multiethnic nature of the society and allow for a more transparent process in the awarding of scholarships.
Ms. Sarabo-Halley further explained that at the beginning of this year an analysis was done of the scholarships given out in 2019 for students to attend the University of Guyana.
She said that the analysis found that the scholarships awarded were consistent with the population of each region.
Minister Parag at her first press conference as Public Service Minister said she will be reviewing the scholarship programme because she found that the scholarships mostly benefitted one demographic. When pressed by reporters to explain that position, Parag refused and said she would prefer to leave the issue like that.