Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar – Photo by Lincoln Holder
OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has urged the Government to give pupils laptops, financial grants and free school transport.
In a statement on Thursday ahead of Monday’s budget, she also urged Government to reintroduce the school laptop programme, started by her administration.
UNC PRO Dr Kirk Meighoo told Newsday that Persad-Bissessar was proposing a fixed annual grant of $1,500 to each pupil in primary school, plus a discretionary grant of $2,000 for pupils in secondary school who needed assistance.
Persad-Bissessar said, “With the budget fast approaching, I make a renewed call to the Government to think of our children and the sacrifices of their hard-working parents. It is time for the Government to reintroduce an annual school grant, the laptop programme for all Form One students and the free student transport to schools in all areas throughout the country.”
She said thousands of children dropped out of school during the covid19 pandemic due to not having computers to access online learning.
“The Government sat idly by, relying on donations from the private sector to meet this need after cancelling the UNC’s laptop programme, which had previously ensured that every child had access to a computer at home and school.”
Persad-Bissessar said hard-working parents now struggle to pay for uniforms, textbooks, photocopies, and stationery supplies.
“As such, I call on the Government to reintroduce the annual school grant.
“Many students are struggling to attend school because of the increased cost of transportation triggered by the removal of the fuel subsidy.”
The free transport programme was essential to ensure the attendance, safety, and security of the nation’s children, she said.
“The Government must act to ensure that no child is left behind. They are our nation’s future.”