The financing of the construction and maintenance of such a transformative institution would not be simple. However, there are many different models that can be used to finance the construction and maintenance of a community college in Guyana, and I would suggest using grants and/or loans for a portion of the capital funding for the construction of this college. The IDB “…provide[s] loans, grants, and technical assistance… [and] work[s] to improve lives in Latin America and the Caribbean… Through financial and technical support for countries working to reduce poverty and inequality, we help improve health and education, and advance infrastructure…” and they have funded 175 education related projects across Latin America and the Caribbean in the last five years (iadb.org). This would be a great multinational institution to approach to assist with the funding for the construction of a community college in Guyana.
Additional funding for the construction of a community college in Guyana can come from financial or material donations from companies large and small across Guyana. These companies can donate financial, physical or intellectual resources that can be used in the construction of the college. The government can offer incentives, such as tax deductions, which can be applied to these donations, whether the donations are financial or material.
Financing the maintenance of such an institution would be tricky, because we do not want to ask the students to pay ridiculously unaffordable amounts to attend, which would lead to low attendance, which would then cause the financial collapse of the college. Rather than high tuition, the government should offer incentives, such as tax credits/rebates, to employed individuals, who sign up at the college to take certificate or associate degree programs and successfully complete them. I am sure that we can come up with many other government backed incentives that will help to finance the recurring expenditures of the college while promoting the development of Guyana’s labor force through education and professional development.
As I mentioned earlier, the college can make a lot of money by running short professional development courses that are designed in conjunction with the companies or organizations that request these courses. The college should be built with facilities that will accommodate such courses and then charge for the use of these facilities and its human resources, if utilized. This is an area that can be actively marketed by the college because it has the potential to attract companies large and small that would pay to send their employees on short professional development courses that would increase efficiency and productivity. In addition, the government can also offer incentives, such as tax credits or deductions, to employers that utilize the college for professional development for their employers.
In its 2008 – 2013 Strategic Plan, the Ministry of Education recognizes the “interconnected nature of the education system” in Guyana, and suggests, “Concerted efforts must be made to strengthen the linkages that exist throughout the system, and specifically, those between our secondary, post-secondary and tertiary institutions.” (p. 62) I believe that the addition of a community college to Guyana’s post-secondary education system would definitely strengthen the linkages in our education system by serving as a bridge between secondary and university education, by ensuring an easy transition from secondary school to university, and by enhancing the skills of the Guyanese workforce.
Guyana’s post-secondary education system requires serious evaluation and transformation. This transformation, I believe, should be in the form of the addition of a community college that would prepare students for baccalaureate programs at the University of Guyana and that would enhance the knowledge, skills and competence of the Guyanese workforce by offering certificate programs. This, of course, would necessitate a new thinking about education and education in Guyana, one that is in line with the rest of the modern world and one that is best for our nation.
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