Georgetown, Guyana – (March 15, 2016) First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger and Minister of Social Cohesion, Ms. Amna Ally, today, presented 30 more bicycles and over 200 pairs of shoes to the students of the St. Ignatius Primary and Secondary schools, in fulfilment of a promise made to them to provide these items to help facilitate their regular attendance at school.
“We were in this region and we distributed 52 bicycles and when we were here, we had promised the primary school and some of the students of the secondary school that they [would] benefit from shoes. Today we are here to keep that promise. This present Government is a government, which delivers on promises. As soon as we received the shoes First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger said that we had promised you and we must return to fulfil that promise,” Minister Ally said in her address to the students at the school, located in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo region.
A St. Ignatius Secondary School student smiles brightly as First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger presents her with a bicycle under President David Granger’s ‘Five Bs’ Programme..
The ‘Shoes that Grow’ project was started by Mrs. Granger in collaboration with Mr. Ernie Ross, Guyana’s Consul General in Trinidad and Tobago, under the Rethink – Kind Soles Project. Mr. Ross was spurred into action after he saw children going to school bare feet in the hinterland areas. The ‘shoes that grow’ can be expanded as children’s feet grow and are expected to last each child approximately five years.
In her address, Mrs. Granger commended the partnership with Mr. Ross and Caribbean Airlines, which has seen the project come to fruition. Caribbean Airlines brings the shoes to Guyana free of cost.
Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Olato Sam heaped praise on the initiative, noting that it bodes well for fulfilling the Ministry’s mandate to educate the nation. He also commended President David Granger’s addition of breakfast to the now expanded ‘Five Bs’ programme, which aims to ensure that every child attends school.
Minister Amna Ally distributes shoes to the students earlier today.
Mrs. Granger presents this smiling student with a pair of the “shoes that grow”, fulfilling a promise she had made to them a few months ago.
“Well the entire initiative certainly has deep significance for the entire education system. These are the elements that collectively help to maintain and complete the picture. When our children can make it to school because they have [a] bicycle their attendance can certainly improve,” he said, adding that the donation of shoes will also boost children’s self-esteem and see them coming to school “in a better frame of mind because they now have shoes and they don’t have to walk barefooted and now that we are expanding the school feeding programme, it will definitely help them.”
Mr. Sam noted too that the Ministry will now be putting a system in place to monitor the attendance and performance of the beneficiaries of the shoes and bicycles, since it is meant to be a sustainable project and not just a one-off hand out.
In addition, Ms. Yvette Archer, Headmistress of St. Ignatius Secondary School remarked that these gifts will motivate children to attend school.
“This initiative will certainly help those students who previously did not have shoes or a bicycle to get to school,” she said.
So far, more than 3000 pairs of shoes have been distributed by the First Lady and Minister Ally to various regions across the country. The aim is to ensure that approximately 30,000 students in the hinterland regions are able to benefit from the programme.
Some of the students from the St. Ignatius Primary and Secondary Schools, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region Nine) who benefited from the shoes this morning.