Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, is confident that there will be a smooth start to the 2010/2011 academic year.
“From the Ministry’s perspective, we have provided the education system with the requisite resources for a seamless start up,” he noted, while addressing journalists on September 1, during a back-to-school press briefing at the Ministry, in Kingston.
Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, responds to questions from members of the press during a back-to-school briefing, at the Ministry, in Kingston on September 1.
The Minister said there might be localised issues as the academic year gets underway, but said those would be dealt with as they arise.
“I would advise principals that your first point of bringing the Ministry of Education into the loop of local problems is through the regional office and not through the press,” the Minister said.. “There is a straight line from the principal to the regional office for action,” he added.
In the meantime, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Audrey Sewell informed that 50 per cent or some $1.25 billion of the tuition fees for the upcoming academic year has been disbursed to public secondary schools.
She said the funds for independent schools ($200 million) and special education institutions ($16 million) will be provided within the first week of September.
“The staff at the Ministry worked very hard, particularly this year, to ensure that we meet our deadlines and we honour our commitments and obligations,” she noted.
Mrs. Sewell informed that the Ministry has also provided a small per capita increase to each school. She said the schools will also be provided with a special maintenance grant, which is used to address minor repairs that might be necessary at the start of the new school year. This is in addition to their normal grants.
“We provide $50,000 per high school and $30,000 per primary and infant school. Those cheques are being disbursed as we speak through the regional offices,” she said.
Mrs. Sewell said grants for utilities ($136.7 million) are also being given to schools, while grants for janitorial services ($44 million) and regular school and teaching materials ($109) were provided to education plants through the regions in August.
“In terms of the school feeding programme, we are on track; those have been uploaded to the accounts of the schools who get the feeding grants,” she said, adding that there was a slight issue with some schools not providing a correct account number, but those institutions would be provided with manual cheques by the first week of September