GEPAN, Georgetown – This year GEPAN has extended its annual Support Education Campaign (SEC) to include children from the hinterland, more specifically from indigenous communities. Of 396 children from Primary and Secondary Schools slated to benefit from the programme, 350 packages including backpacks, exercise books, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, pens, crayons and rulers were already dispatched to the hinterland. So far, 150 children from Moruca and Port Kaituma sub-regions in Region 1, Barima-Waini, received packages. Each backpack contains 5 exercise books, 2 rulers, 2 sharpeners, 2 erasers, 5 pencils and 4 pens. Younger children received boxes of crayons.
The initiative which was made possible through the generosity of our donors is part of GEPAN’s commitment to support children from modest social and economic backgrounds, by reducing expenses linked to school supplies. Financially challenged families in hinterland and rural Guyana have a more difficult time sending their children to school and our 2016 report on poverty on the Essequibo Coast, revealed that this significantly increases the rate of school drop-out.
The decision to focus the majority of our activities in the hinterland this year was not an easy one, as we encountered difficulties linked to logistics and distribution due to the distance of locations as well as poor infrastructure which delays access to remote areas, especially in Region 9. As a result, delivery of packages in Region 9 is still pending. However, given the hardships faced by indigenous children in the hinterland to attend school, we were determined to assist families by alleviating school expenses in whatever little way we could.
Indigenous children are among those who face tremendous challenges associated with harsh geographic, climatic and infrastructural setbacks. Shortages of trained teachers, as well as financial difficulties due to unemployment or struggling village economies, increase the burden of families who struggle to send their children to school. Some families are unable to purchase uniforms and shoes and sometimes, cannot afford more than a meal a day for their children. It is therefore not uncommon to see school children attending school bare feet with worn-out uniforms in the deep hinterland.
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