Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Massive education drive underway in Caribbean’s biggest oil producing nation

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Before Guyana’s Stabroek Block hits the one million barrel per day (bpd) production mark in the next few years, the government is embarking on a massive education exercise for its people. This is to ensure citizens are equipped with the requisite capabilities and competencies needed to take advantage of all opportunities ahead, says Senior Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh.

During a recent online interview, Dr. Singh was keen to note that government wants to ensure that as many Guyanese as possible can competitively participate in the oil and gas sector. He said they must be equipped with the tools needed to benefit the most from the transformation that is to come.

“We want to make sure that everybody has a secondary education in Guyana and has access to technical and vocational education,” Dr. Singh said. “We want to make sure that everybody is [information technology] literate, that they’re able to participate in the modern economy, and we are already seeing returns to this.”

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The senior official said there are already thousands of Guyanese drawn from Georgetown, Linden, Berbice, and Essequibo who are directly employed in the oil and gas sector.

He said, “Then you have a remarkable construction boom that is taking place with factories, warehouses, office buildings and residences going up. That sector alone has also created several thousand jobs…”

The official said the escalation of demand in the construction sector now requires more engineers, architects, skilled construction workers, among others. As such, he said has resulted in government making an immediate intervention with investment in the short-term for heavy equipment operators as well as mariners and seafarers.

Singh said the government is working with several partners in the country and abroad to ensure these efforts are augmented with haste.

In the meantime, government continues to push for persons to take advantage of thousands of programmes available via the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL). Launched in 2021, GOAL is an initiative of the Government of Guyana to provide 20,000 scholarships to Guyanese to pursue online, tertiary-level programmes via partnerships with reputable international universities.

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To complement the foregoing, government has also received a US$44 million loan from the World Bank for the Guyana Strengthening Human Capital through Education Project. This initiative focuses on expanding access to quality education at the secondary level, as well as improving technical and vocational training (TVET) to meet the needs of the labour market.

Government has also received a US$43 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for its ‘Transforming Guyana’s Education Sector’ Project. It will focus on accelerated learning and skills development, ensuring technology integration into teaching and learning, implementing an Education Management Information System (EMIS), and embarking on the construction of four primary schools as well as critical infrastructure improvements to 13 others.

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