In response to her government’s failure to construct new secondary schools between 2015 and 2020, Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) and Shadow Education Minister, Coretta McDonald cited the absence of fires during that period.

She said that her party, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government saw no “mysterious fires”, alluding that the deliberate setting of fires from 2021 is a pretext for this post-2020 government to give rebuilding contracts to favoured companies. She made this accusation and more during her contribution to the 2024 budget debates.

McDonald, who also serves as the General Secretary of the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), was unapologetic as she railed the government’s side for allegedly handing out contracts to “friends, family and flatterers”. She also accused the sitting minister, Priya Manickchand of “politicizing the ministry” and using her office to “campaign” for her party.

“One of the reasons the ministry is busy building secondary schools is due to the fact that since the PPP were installed in office of August 2020, there has been the mysterious burning of secondary schools. There is a school of thought that the cronies must be constantly fed…The attention is now turned for an opportunity to create another hustle,” the MP told the House.

But Manickchand, during her contribution, responded by noting that she, nor her government plays no part in awarding contracts to build schools. Also, the minister was keen to question the rationale behind McDonald’s statement, inquiring whether fires was the sole prerequisite for the former government to build or rebuild schools.

She added that by using applying this apparent position, it would appear that the APNU+AFC government was satisfied with the number of schools in the country. However, she argued that the lack of seats at schools in the interior and even some along the coast – totaling tens of thousands – would suggest that the former government was sitting on its hands.

The minister said that the McDonald’s accusation over the motive of burning schools is “vacuous and idiotic”.

Regarding the awarding of contracts, the minister said that these works were publicly advertised, and there was public bidding which occurred under the watch of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).

“Every procurement done by the Ministry of Education – and I’m prepared to put my head on the block for this – every procurement done by the Ministry of Education is done in accordance with the procurement laws. These are publicly advertised, people bid and NPTAB evaluates,” she said.


  1. The only reason that there were many fires under the new government was that they were set deliberately to “make the country ungovernable.”
    I ask who set the fires?


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