Education is free and compulsory for children aged 5-15. The education system is primarily financed by the central Government. Generally, formal education is available at all levels from nursery to secondary level at no tuition costs to students. However, fees are payable at the University. In 2016/2017, 144,000 students were enrolled in compulsory education, of which 80,000 were in primary (ages 6-11) and 64,000 in secondary education (ages 12-16).
In 2016, Guyana spent 18% of the national budget or 5% of the GDP on education. The government of Guyana allocated SDR$52.2 billion to the education sector in the 2019 budget. The Ministry of Education (MoE) holds the main responsibility for the education sector.
In line with the Government’s “Vision 2020: The Good Life in a Green Economy” policy, the country’s Education Sector Plan (ESP) 2014-18 set two priorities: (a) to increase learning outcomes for all levels of education and all sub-groups; and (b) to decrease the differentials in learning outcomes between sub-groups, especially between students in coastal and hinterland schools and those students who have special education needs. The Education Strategy Plan (ESP) 2019–2023 Vision 2030 is under development with a plan to finalize it by the end of 2020. It aims to provide opportunities for quality, equitable education and lifelong learning for all.
Beyond the education sector, the Ministry of Finance funds the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) which aims to improve access to basic public services including education in impoverished communities. A US$6M grant agreement from the CDB aimed at building capacity in rural/hinterland communities through basic certificate courses in numeracy, literacy and computer training and construction/rehabilitation of schools and teacher accommodation.
The Guyana Education Sector Improvement project (2017-2022) and Secondary Education Improvement project (2015-2020), a total of US$ 24 million, co-financed by the World Bank, aims to improve low quality of teaching and learning at all levels and inequalities (by gender, for example) in learning outcomes at both primary and secondary level as well as a medical school at the tertiary level.
A total budget of SDR $61 million is allocated for vulnerable populations in 2018, of which SDR$19 million is allocated for hinterland education improvement. These programs aim to reduce the number of hinterland school dropouts. In 2020, the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs and Ministry of Social Cohesion commissioned SDR $30million to build 2 primary schools in the hinterland, for a total of 9 schools since 2019, to reduce the distance to access to schools for the residents, as a part of a SDR $5.4 billion program with a budget of for educational facilities’ maintenance.
School Feeding (SDR $7 billion between 2014-2018) finances the community-based hot meal programme in the hinterland regions started under the EFA-FTI programme and the national snack programmes which cover all other nursery school students and Grades 1 and 2 students at the primary level. The program budgeted G$1,4 billion in 2018, accounting for 3% of the budget (G$49 billion). More than 20,000 students now benefit from some form of school feeding in 216 hinterland nursery and primary schools and annexes.
The Public Education Transportation Services (PETS) provides buses, boats and bicycles to help children attend school in hinterland and coastal areas. PETS has distributed 4,000 free bicycles, including to hinterland students.
Scholarships for hinterland youths
- The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs offers Scholarships (for secondary level students and University) given out to 187 hinterland students in 2018. 49 of them are granted a full scholarship for attending the University of Guyana. Hinterland students are among the beneficiaries of the 1,599 tertiary-level scholarships offered by the Department of the Public Service since 2015.
The Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS) programme provided training for 4000 hinterland youths and would lead to the creation of almost 2000 small businesses. The students under this one-year programme received a SDR$30,000 stipend each month. Some SDR$100M has been set aside to further support those successful businesses created under the HEYS programme in 2019.
There is no publicly available information on this topic.