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Govt announces loan write-off for students who stayed in Guyana, worked for 3 years

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…some 13,000 students with $11B in loan debts to benefit

Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh has announced the commencement of phase one of the student loan write-off as was outlined during the 2024 budget presentation and part of the party’s 2020 Manifesto.
On Monday in a live broadcast, Dr Singh said that the parameters of phase one Student Loan Write Off Programme include the writing off all loans owed by Guyanese who are able to demonstrate that they completed their course of study and graduated. This also includes, he said, that subsequent to graduation, the persons were employed or self-employed in Guyana for a minimum of three years, as evidenced by a minimum of 156 contributions made to the National Insurance Scheme.
“This is specifically intended to acknowledge as the first priority the contributions made by persons who utilised their education to contribute in one way or another, through employed or self-employed economic activities, towards the development of our country. This first phase, subject to the number of persons who provide the required evidence, could potentially benefit over 13,000 Guyanese who have $11 billion in student loan debt,” Dr Singh said.
He reminded that after 2015, the then APNU/AFC administration had proposed the introduction of travel bans, where students’ information would be put at all immigration points and desks established to bar students with outstanding loans from travelling.
This, he said, rendered fear in scores of students across the country.
“This hostile approach by the APNU/AFC administration is yet another example of the callous and uncaring nature of the APNU/AFC, and is in striking contrast to the people centred approach of the PPP/C,” the finance minister said.
He added that President Dr Irfaan Ali’s ‘One Guyana’ vision seeks to create a society where all Guyanese, irrespective of where they live, their ethnic or religious background, political affiliation, or gender or other orientation, have the opportunity to lead productive and happy lives. This initiative, he added, aims to achieve this by reducing inequality in access to education, health and other social services, employment and income, and security and justice.
According to Dr Singh, in keeping “with our One Guyana vision and in line with our party’s people centred approach to development, and our manifesto, Government remains committed to providing free tertiary education to Guyanese by 2025. In the coming days we will publish how persons can access this immediate phase 1 of the student loan write off programme in keeping with the announcement that I have just made on behalf of President Dr Irfaan Ali and the PPP/C Government.”
Earlier this year at one of his weekly press conferences, Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo had said that with provisions to waiver outstanding student loans acquired within its current term in office and give free tertiary education, this feature is technically already effective.
As he addressed the manifesto promise of ensuring free university education, Jagdeo had explained that students who took out loans and are yet to repay such within the timeframe of the Government’s term in office would be given a waiver. Retroactively, they will also benefit from free tertiary education as a result of this.
President Dr Irfaan Ali had already indicated that the Government’s plan to provide Guyanese with free University of Guyana (UG) education by 2025 would be rolled out in phases, starting with students who have pre-existing loans.
He also spoke about the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL) scholarship programme, which has seen the Government partnering with educational institutions around the world to offer courses that will meet the challenges and demands of various sectors in Guyana, including the oil and gas, engineering and construction, and information security sectors. According to the Vice President, the anticipated influx of higher qualified persons into the workforce will create conditions in the public and private sector that have to be addressed.
The Government has already distributed over 20,000 online scholarships through GOAL. The 20,000 online scholarships programme is also the fulfilment of a pledge made to provide opportunities for educational development nationwide. Within the first year of its launch, over 8000 citizens applied for the free online programme.
While the Government had originally intended to make 20,000 of the online scholarships available, this target has since been revised owing to the overwhelming interest shown by citizens.
GOAL is set to offer 187 programmes that can be accessed from 15 reputable academic institutions across the world, including in India, Africa, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

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