A warm welcome and thank you for joining me on this momentous occasion. When the PPP/C Government took office in 2020, it was envisioned that one of the sectors which would be transformed in the upcoming years would be education. This is the exact reason why in budget 2021 an astounding sum of $ 60.7 billion dollars has been allocated to support the transformation of the education sector. The budget catered to the launch of a new institute which would offer quality, tertiary level programmes to Guyanese all over this beautiful land, and especially those who in previous years could not access higher level education offered by centres situated in Georgetown and major outlying areas. At the beginning of our tenure, we promised 20,000 scholarships and I am ecstatic that you are able to join us as we deliver .The focus of the Academy is one tenet in delivering our promise to the people of Guyana in this regard. It is with great pride and honor that I launch the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL).
It is envisaged that the Academy would make diverse fully online educational programmes accessible to the population; provide a platform for the development of open and online/teaching /learning materials in Guyana; broker opportunities for open and online educational programmes with reputable regional and international educational institutions at affordable costs; and develop standards for the development and delivery of open and online programmes in Guyana.
We have negotiated, thus far, with University of the West Indies, Indira Ghandi National Open University in India, Jain University in India, University of Applied Sciences in Germany, and the University Of Southern Caribbean in Trinidad. Plans are afoot, and some negotiations have begun, with other universities to offer courses pertinent to the needs of Guyana. Most of the courses being offered are not currently offered at the University of Guyana, and certainly not in and online/distance learning mode. The scope is therefore more comprehensive for Guyanese to specialize in other subject areas and broaden the local capacity.
The Office of the President, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Public Service will be implementing and providing support to this initiative. The target is to provide 20,000 scholarships to Guyanese across the various sectors of our economy over the next five years.
With the advancement of emerging sectors such as oil and gas in Guyana, it will give rise to a plethora/myriad of new opportunities which Guyanese should be able to benefit from irrespective of creed or race. GOAL will pave the path to further educational opportunities and development of our beloved nation. Our Government once again, demonstrates its commitment to ensuring that Guyanese can optimize their participation and prospects, to benefit through the initiation of the Guyana Online Learning Academy (GOAL).
The launch of GOAL is in keeping with the current Government’s vision of improved access to education. Education is the driving force which plays an imperative role in the development and sustaining of any country. Underpinning this is the philosophy that an educated population and by extension workforce contributes to empowerment and the progression of a nation. However, the challenge of affordability and access to scholarships at the tertiary level is a significant barrier which has been recognized. In an effort to address this, the Guyana Online Academy of Learning will also aim provide opportunities to vulnerable groups across the various regions in Guyana.
GOAL will be a catalyst of growth for communities and vulnerable groups of society in fostering inclusion and equity from the coast to the hinterland of Guyana. For decades, persons from the hinterland regions of Guyana have not been able to benefit from a University which significantly impedes their ability to participate meaningfully in acquiring further education. Hence, the Academy will be focusing on providing much needed opportunities to areas of interest tailored specifically to the socio-economic needs of these communities. As such, learning centers will be established in all regions across the country to ensure that persons who may not have access to resources will be able to study utilizing these centers.
In addition, GOAL was created with a view to focus on educating women who were previously unable to further their studies so as to expand their opportunities and provide much needed skills. An educated woman translates to an educated family and by extension an educated community and finally an educated nation. Our country cannot reach the pinnacle of its potential if initiatives are not designed to capture and actively engage all sectors of society. I wish to further highlight that GOAL will be a platform through which teachers, doctors and nurses, police officers, bankers, carpenters, accountants, lawyers, farmers, children of sugar and bauxite workers and even housewives can pursue further education.
The platform is geared towards online learning which provides flexibility and will allow persons to study and learn at their own pace. It is my hope that this programme will help Guyanese meet their full potential and have the necessary tools to equip themselves for a competitive future. During a pandemic, this is of paramount importance as access to learning materials and resources are becoming more available and online learning is accelerated. It is noteworthy to mention that online learning provides a degree of versatility for students who are working and also wish to pursue further studies concurrently.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my profound gratitude to the partnering universities and Ministries who have been working tirelessly to make this a reality. I would also like to reaffirm my and our Government’s commitment to strengthening and enhancing human capacity development through access to education regardless of location in Guyana. It is my hope that Guyanese take advantage of these opportunities so that they can achieve their aspirations and dreams so that together we may build a better Guyana.
I wish GOAL and the learners success!
– His Excellency, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Dr. Irfaan Ali