The Ministry of Education has started to disburse funds to schools across the island, in preparation for the beginning of the new school year on September 3.
Minister of Education, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, said the funds are made available this early, as the Ministry wanted schools to carry out the necessary repairs and make the proper arrangements before school starts.
According to the Minister, all high school accounts have been funded with the first tranche of tuition fees totaling $1.38 billion and an additional $37. 4 million for maintenance grants. The primary schools have also been funded with the first term’s grant totaling $157.77 million. This has been sent to the various regional offices for disbursement.
The Minister, who was speaking at a press conference at the Ministry, today (August 10), said the per-capita allocation for Tuition Grant remains at $11,500 for high school students; $930 for primary schools and $830 for infant schools.
Rev. Thwaites repeated his stance that parents must contribute something towards their children’s education, so the payment of auxiliary fees for high schools is not optional.
“Auxiliary fees are necessary in order to assist the schools to balance their budgets, because the tuition expenses alone and the grants to the primary schools are not sufficient to operate the school plant,” he said.
The Minister emphasised however, that “no one must be discriminated against if they cannot pay the school fees.” Instead, he is urging school administrators to work out payment plans that will assist parents in meeting their obligations.
Rev. Thwaites reiterated that some $900 million has been spent to provide texts in schools for all grades and all subject areas, excepting for literature books and those for Sixth Form. The delivery of these books will be completed by August 24.
The Minister explained that on Sunday (August 12), the Ministry will be publishing in the main newspapers, a list of recommended texts for all grades in the upcoming school year. He noted that there was an analysis of school text book lists and this has guided the choice of books by the Ministry.
“What the survey showed was that many schools were giving parents booklists and requiring them to buy texts which were going to be distributed by the Ministry. That is why we are making it quite clear in early publication, which books are being distributed to the schools,” he said.
The Minister said that there should be considerable reductions in the cost to parents as they go to buy the required books.
“I am saying to parents, please take the money that you might otherwise have spent in buying books that might not have been necessary and apply it to auxiliary fees in the high schools. That money is need for the schools to function. Take that money if you are at the primary level and contribute to the PTA or to the other expenses that can reasonably be asked for children going to school at that level,” Rev. Thwaites said.