Denial of airfares for hinterland students“In everything, there are issues. If you do not make early request, it might take a few days before you could overcome them but they are being eventually supported.”Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister, Sydney AllicockRegion One Chairman, Brentnol AshleyThose were the words of the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister, Sydney Allicock, who was at the time responding to questions with regards to students in Georgetown being denied their airfares to return home in the hinterland locations.According to Allicock, “If whoever is dealing with them don’t give us advance notice it takes time to do the paperwork to get the monies and the time, who is going where and that sort of thing. So it’s not like one area they are going to, it’s many areas so you have to look for opportunities on which flight, which bus, or which transport, these things are normally taken care of”.On Friday it was reported that several hinterland students are being denied their airfares to return home. This was revealed by the Region One (Barima-Waini) Chairman, Brentnol Ashley.The Chairman explained that students desirous of studying on the coastland would take the opportunity of pursuing courses in the capital city and then return to serve their community for two years.It is a framework that was established to provide tertiary education since these services are non-existent in the region.“We would have established a scholarship programme. It would have been in existence for years in which persons who are employed with the RDC would apply because there is no access to tertiary education. They would apply to attend University of Guyana, the Guyana School of Agriculture and other agencies and the region would allow them to continue studying and upon completion, they are obligated by way of those conditions to return and serve the region for a period of two years,” he told this publication.During their scholarships, transportation is provided two times annually to visit their relatives; in the 2019 budget, adequate resources were allocated for such to be done. However, the Regional Executive Officer (REO) has reportedly denied the travel allowance, maintaining that such is not prescribed in the contracts.Ashley explained, “The region would have put together a contract which is in keeping with the contract that they normally sign with the Department of Public Service. In that regional contract would have guided with conditions that they will be paid their salaries and providing an air ticket for two times a year so that they can be with their families. Now, even though we would have budgeted for that to happen and the resources are provided, the REO has stopped that, saying that this contact does not speak about providing transportation or their air ticket.”This move has left several students stranded in the city – a move which will affect the human resource capacity in their villages significantly.The Chairman contended, “This is the hinterland. It is not the coastland where you can easily get into a bus or taxi to get to where you need to go and it is costly. It is a clear indication that the REO isn’t respecting the decision of the RDC. He is making unilateral decisions without consulting the legally elected Council”.