(Geogetown, Guyana – March 10, 2022) Over the past few days, Minister of Public Service, Sonia Parag has been conducting scholarship outreaches in various parts of the country. On Wednesday, she journeyed with her team to Region One (Barima-Waini), where she led a series of outreaches at Port Kaituma and Mabaruma, respectively.
Minister Parag encouraged residents to take full advantage of the government’s landmark 20,000 online scholarships initiative, being administered via the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL), which is headed by Professor Jacob Opadeyi, former Chancellor of the University of Guyana.
Last year, when the programme was first introduced, a total of 6000 persons were awarded scholarships and have since begun their studies in various fields. From Region One alone, 240 applications were submitted for GOAL 2021. Of that amount, 238 persons received scholarships and are currently studying at universities in India, Germany and the wider Caribbean region.
The initiative offers Guyanese from all walks of life the opportunity to study online and to be able to earn qualifications ranging from certificates, all the way to PhDs. “…and you don’t have to take a cent out of your pocket for it,” minister Parag emphasised.
She clarified that although constant connectivity is an issue in some areas, it should not be a deterrent to those who want to apply, since this would not have any major implications on a person’s studies. “We understand the challenges and we are working to eliminate those challenges for you, but in the meantime, all you need is some internet to download the teaching materials to study, and then connectivity again to upload your work. You don’t always have to be online,” Minister Parag explained.
She also highlighted government’s continued efforts to establish even more Information and Communication Technology (ICT) hubs across the country. As a matter of fact, minister Parag disclosed that soon, the Port Kaituma Secondary School will be equipped with a state-of-the-art computer laboratory, which would ensure that more persons in the region are technologically savvy.
Based on questions from potential candidates, minister Parag dispelled misconceptions that persons are required to “payback” the government for the scholarships. “You are not bonded to us,” minister Parag said. She noted, however, that persons will be asked to provide some form of community service for a period ranging from one week to no more than three months.
Persons such as policeman, Emmanuel Rogers are eager to take on courses that will bring career development. “I’ve been following the GOAL programme for quite some time now, and it is something that I welcome. I think it’s very important for persons to take the scholarship programme seriously…it is very smart that the government could recognise the importance of an educated population, and that is why persons should come out and apply, like I am doing today,” Rogers encouraged.
Among his three choice options, the 30-year-old has signed up for courses in criminology and victimology, as well as a diploma in creative writing. “I have always had a love for reading and writing,” he added.
Meanwhile, minister Parag was keen on reminding the potential applicants that GOAL is also facilitating a myriad of technical courses, stemming from garment construction and event planning, to massage therapy and decorations, all of which require no formal qualifications.
As a matter of fact, the recently appointed Regional Education Officer of Region One, Chiveon Dovell-Success, was one of the first persons to complete the course in garment construction. “I did the programme last year. Now, I can make my own clothes, like the outfit you see me wear here,” the REdO said in her remarks to encourage persons to get registered and begin their GOAL journey. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I would encourage anybody to take it,” Mrs. Dovell-Success noted.
The 20,000 online scholarships initiative is the brainchild of the Dr. Irfaan Ali-led People’s Progressive Party/Civic government, which continues to invest heavily in the education and training of Guyanese. The administration is cognizant of the fact that the magnanimous transformation projected for Guyana would mean nothing for Guyanese unless more and more persons are qualified to capitalize on the opportunities that are bound to come on stream.
During the outreaches in Region One, residents spared no effort in registering for their desired courses. As Wednesday’s outreach wrapped up, in excess of 70 applications were completed on the spot and submitted to the GOAL team.
So far, minister Parag has conducted similar outreaches across Regions One, Two and Five, while teams of GOAL officials have already reached out to residents of Region Three. Over the next two days, another team will be in Region Nine, while minister Parag is slated to take on Region Six on Friday.
The ministry’s aim is to ensure that GOAL benefits from a healthy balance across all spectrums, including ethnic and geographic. “Our people in every nook and cranny of this nation must be properly educated and qualified to benefit from the opportunities that will soon begin to unfold,” minister Parag asserted. After two extensions, the registration period for GOAL will finally end this Saturday at mid-night.