JIS News

The Government is seeking to achieve a more equitable balance in the distribution of public funds to the education system, and to specifically release funds for early childhood and primary education.
As obtained in a Ministry Paper tabled in the House of Representatives last week by the Education Minister, Andrew Holness, the University of the West Indies was allocated 13.57 per cent of the education budget for the fiscal year 2007/08, while the allocation to the entire early childhood sector was 4.11 per cent.
However, in its move to achieve equity, the Ministry must ensure that enrollment in tertiary institutions will not be negatively affected by changes in the financing regime, the Ministry Paper points out.
Additionally, consideration is to be given to differentiated fee structures that consider the area of study being undertaken and its relationship to the national development needs. Consideration will also be given to the earning capabilities of the Universities and their opportunities for establishing profit centres.
Expansion of the student loan programme is among the alternatives to be explored. Consequently, the possibility of decreasing subventions and increasing availability of loans will be examined.
The document says that deliberations will also include identifying the additional capital that the Student Loan Bureau would require; the cost of incorporating a grant component, and other needs-based flexibilities into the programme; solutions to the problems some students have with securing guarantors; and a programme to widen the number of students who are eligible for loans.
A committee, chaired by the Minister of Education, is undertaking the ‘examination’ with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, the Student Loan Bureau, the Planning Institute of Jamaica, and the Universities, the document further reveals.
The review is to be completed by the 2009/10 academic year; thereafter a decision will be taken on how and when the rebalancing process will be implemented. Already, the University of the West Indies is making preparations to accommodate this policy shift.

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