Minister of Education, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, is urging parents to pay the necessary auxiliary fees being charged by administrators in Secondary Schools.
He informed that the Government currently provides an amount of $11,500 for the direct tuition for each child in the public secondary school system, but this is not enough to meet the total needs of the school.
"This is what we can afford, but it is recognised that it is insufficient to meet the reasonable cost of quality high school education. Auxiliary fees therefore represent an indispensable component of schools’ financing of their programmes and operations,” Rev. Thwaites said.
The Minister was making his contribution to the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, on June 19.
He pointed out that the fees, which are worked out in conjunction with representatives of parents and principals, are “not optional extras which you pay if you feel like."
“There have been some careless statements made about this matter in recent years, which have resulted in a drastic reduction in compliance. Many schools are collecting less than 30 per cent of the already small fees. Schools have suffered, especially the weaker ones, and when schools suffer, students are the casualties,” Rev. Thwaites said.
He further noted that families who cannot afford to pay the auxiliary fees at one time, should work out a payment plan with the school.
"Supporting your child in school must come before the ‘rizzla’ (ganja wrap) and the rum; before the hair extensions and the bashment clothes; before the numbers game and the racehorse bets,” the Minister emphasised.
Meantime, Rev. Thwaites said that nearly half the school population is on the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH).
“The Ministry of Education is pleading with the Ministries of Finance and Labour and Social Security to contribute $2,000 a year for each PATH student beneficiary. It is a matter of justice and equity, not charity,” Rev. Thwaites said.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter