The Alim Shah Stores have been re-added to the list of entities for the school uniform voucher programme just in time as the distribution for the new school terms begins.According to a business representative, the stores’ Regent Street, Georgetown; and Rose Hall, Berbice branches have received official notification from the Education Ministry that it “is pleased to be partnering” with the business in this year’s School Uniform Voucher programme.Alim Shah store on Regent StreetThe letter was signed by Ms Patricia Stephen, Assistant Secretary to the Education Ministry.Alim Shah Stores started to accept school uniform vouchers since last week after being assured by the Ministry’s chief accountant that the business continues to be on the official database despite the advertisements which have appeared in the press in which the business is not listed as being on this year’s programme.The proprietor, Alim Shah, was concerned at the omission and felt that it was reprisal from the Government for the columns that his daughter, Ryhaan Shah, writes for Guyana Times.In an invited comment to this publication, he expressed relief to have received the official notification since both stores had already ordered and started preparing their stock of school pants, shirts, underwear, haversacks, and other items for their back-to-school business.He said that the business has built up a good working relationship with the Education Ministry over the years and he expects that the good relations will continue under the new Administration.Interestingly, when Shah initially raised concerns of being dropped from the programme, the Education Ministry immediately released a statement positing that the business was at fault.The statement explained that the Ministry noted that it publicly advertised for ‘Expressions of Interest’ to participate in the Uniform Voucher programme in 2016 and that the business under the name Alim Shah never indicated any interest in participating in the programme, hence their name would not have been on the published 2016 list.“They subsequently communicated with the Ministry, indicating that they erroneously assumed that since they were on the list in previous years they would have automatically been included,” the statement noted.According to the Ministry, the matter has since been resolved with the entity.Distribution of vouchersMeanwhile, the Ministry is ready to distribute approximately 150,000 uniform vouchers to parents and guardians of children attending public schools in Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Four (Demerara-Mahaica), Five (Mahaica-Berbice), Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), 10 (Upper Demerara), Bartica, in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Georgetown, in Region Four.Each voucher is valued $2000 – an increase from $1500 in previous years, and is valid until October 31, 2016.Parents are reminded that vouchers are intended to be used for the purchase of school items only and that all vouchers can be redeemed at participating businesses/suppliers, a list of which has been published in the press and is available at the respective schools and regional departments of education.A valid form of identification is required to uplift the voucher.Every child attending a Government school is entitled to uniform assistance under the National Uniform Programme. On the coastland, the Education Ministry administers the Uniform Voucher Programme while in Hinterland communities, the assistance is administered by the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry.Public schools will be closed for a period of eight weeks from July 11 to September 2, 2016.
By Andrew CarmichaelA 21-year-old pregnant woman is now nursing injuries about her body, becoming the latest victim of domestic abuse in Guyana.Seema Bisnauth, of Rampoor, Corriverton, Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice – Corentyne), said that she was severely beaten on Saturday evening while at home.Seema BisnauthAccording to her sister Latoya, she visited her sister at her home on Sunday but after calling out for her several times without response, she realised that something was amiss.She said that she was eventually allowed into the house by her brother-in-law and found her sister lying on the bed.“When I see her laying down in the bed, her eyes were closed and she couldn’t see and he was right there. She told me that it is two girls from the market beat her up,” the 22-year-old Latoya told this publication. She said that she volunteered to take her sister to the hospital and while on the way to the medical institution, her sister finally confided in her that it was her husband that beat her.Swaswattie EtwaruShe said that her poultry farmer husband went home on Saturday afternoon annoyed and started hitting her, causing her to lose consciousness. She related that when she regained consciousness, she was lying on the bed and could not see.After telling her story, Bisnauth was taken to the Springlands Police Station, where a report was made.She was then taken to the Skeldon Hospital and subsequently transferred to the New Amsterdam Hospital.Police later arrested the poultry farmer. The couple have been married for three months. They have a three-year-old child and Bisnauth is eight months pregnant.According to Latoya, this is the third time her sister has been beaten by her husband.She said the couple’s three-year-old child had to be removed from the home and now lives with a grandparent.This is the second woman in Berbice that has come forward to tell her story of domestic violence.On Monday, another woman was injured at the hands of her reputed husband but she refused to offer evidence against him. Swaswattie Etwaru, 33, who was severely beaten by her 24-year-old husband last week, which resulted in her being hospitalised, told this publication that she has refused to press charges against her husband. She said that her decision was influenced by the fact that she already has a child with her husband and is five months pregnant.On Tuesday, six months after Derrick Solomon, a taxi driver, was charged with attempting to kill his common-law wife, he walked out of the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts a free man after she refused to testify against him.The 60-year-old man of Lot 10 Block F North Sophia, Greater Georgetown, was charged for the attempted murder of Carol London on March 2, 2019 at their North Sophia, Greater Georgetown residence, where the couple shared a common-law relationship for over 10 years.When the matter was called before Magistrate Sherdel Marcus-Isaacs, London informed the court that she does not wish to proceed with the matter and will not offer evidence.The prosecution was contending that on March 2, Solomon and London had an argument and he left their home, when he returned sometime later, armed himself with a knife and dealt the woman several stabs about her body.The injured woman was rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) where she was admitted as a patient.The victim had received injuries to her hands and face.Just recently, Acting Police Commissioner Nigel Hoppie noted that statistics revealed that there were 2080 reports of domestic violence reports made in 2017 to the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and as a result of those reports, there were 1171 cases made by law enforcement authorities.For the year 2018, there were 1491 reports, which led to 837 cases made by the Police.“We are all aware that domestic violence continues to be a serious social threat and it is everybody’s business because it does not only affect victims at their homes, it affects individuals at the workplace, and it affects every other family, it can also affect us at schools. Turning a blind eye to these occurrences can further threaten among other things, our culture…we can still hear insistent clammer by family members of victims for legal intervention,” Hoppie stated.