JIS News

Minister of Education, Andrew Holness, has said that the objective of the government’s free tuition initiative is to ensure that all Jamaicans have access to education.
Mr. Holness, who was addressing a Think Tank held yesterday (Sept. 27) at the JIS Half-Way-Tree Road headquarters, said that with the initiative, there is no excuse for parents not to send their children to school. “Parents, who do not send their child to school because they feel they cannot afford it, are neglectful and [I] will consider them negligent,” he stated.
The government has announced free tuition at the secondary level and parents, who have already paid, would begin receiving refunds in November.Mr. Holness said that in removing the tuition fee, which covers “the non salary costs of delivering tutelage and the materials for delivering tutelage,” the government will be absorbing a greater portion of the education cost.
“We firmly believe that a reallocation of the existing budget towards education will make the value that we get from the expenditure of the entire budget greater,” he argued.
The Education Minister urged parents, who are still having difficulties in sending their children to school, to take advantage of the many assistance programmes in place. Parents, he said, should “go to the principal or the guidance counsellor where an interview will be done to determine the nature and extent of assistance needed, [and] if it is beyond their scope you [the parents] have the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) and the Ministry of Education.”
Mr. Holness, in the meantime, said he firmly believed that parents ought to contribute to education and encouraged them to donate the refunds, towards schools’ development funds. “We are very pleased when we hear proud Jamaicans say we will not take the refund or we will continue to make our contributions to the schools..that is the attitude, we want parents to take towards education.”
The Education Minister stressed that every child must have access to quality education, and one must not be compromised or the other. “We have to ensure that with access comes quality and that we should not look at it as a trade off,” he said.
“The government has an obligation to ensure that every single Jamaican can truly access education and we also have the obligation to make sure that every single Jamaican child gets the best education possible. We intend to find the equilibrium position of both because the moment you try to improve quality without improving access you are going to end up in an elitist system,” Mr. Holness said.

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