Wheatley defends $1M sum allotted to education sector from SSB grant
Education Minister, Dr Natalio Wheatley has dismissed the notion that insufficient funds had been allotted to the education sector from the $40 million COVID-19 grant government received from the Social Security Board last year.
Opposition legislator, Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull had asked the minister whether some of the funds given through the grant could have been better served in the education sector.
But Dr Wheatley explained that the grant was designed for a specific purpose and that was to provide relief to persons and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many of the programmes from this grant were associated with providing relief for persons who work within the private sector as well as stimulating the economy which was negatively impacted by lockdowns and the shutdown of the tourist economy,” the minister explained.
“So, the persons within the private sector who would have [felt] an impact in education would have been daycares, preschools and private educational institutions,” Dr Wheatley said.
The minister noted that these entities found the grants very useful and were very grateful for them.
Dr Wheatley said the $1 million grant given to daycares, pre-schools and private educational institutions was a very important aspect of the relief programme.
He said a meeting with an association of daycares and preschools recently, confirmed that the grant was essential in keeping those businesses afloat.
Besides the money allotted through the Social Security grant, Dr Wheatley said the government also procured laptops to assist students with online learning during a period when face-to-face classes were not being held.
But Turnbull said parents who received those government-issued laptops for their children also experienced difficulty in paying their internet bills as a result of COVID-19. He said this, too, was an impact the government could have been considered for funding through the grant.