JIS News

Prime Minister Bruce Golding has instructed the Ministry of Education to determine the true cost of educating children at all levels of the education system and that a model for the financing of education be developed in partnership with all stakeholders.
The Prime Minister reiterated the policy of the government that no child should be deprived of admission or discriminated against in the provision of the education service due to the inability of parents to pay fees. This position was accepted and supported by all the stakeholders present.
Mr. Golding was speaking this morning (July 31) at Jamaica House, when he met with the Minister of Education, Andrew Holness and a broad-based representation of principals, Jamaica Teachers Association and the National Parent Teachers Association of Jamaica.
The meeting addressed several issues including auxiliary fees and a related statement made in Parliament last week by Prime Minister Golding in relation to increased auxiliary fees being charged by some secondary schools.
Referring to the statement and the discomfort expressed by some principals, Mr. Golding said it was never his intention to offend anyone. He said he was aware that it is not the general practice of schools to deny children access and that there are some schools which have actually reduced their auxiliary fees. ‘However, there were some schools whose actions were cause for concern and ran counter to government policy. It is my duty as Prime Minister to ensure equity, access and a quality education for all’, Mr. Golding said.
The meeting also addressed the issue of rising overhead costs facing schools, including the costs of utilities. Prime Minister Golding has instructed the Ministry of Education to develop a comprehensive conservation programme which will include the use of alternative sources of energy. The government will also explore the possibility of securing support from the PetroCaribe funds for the introduction of solar technology in schools.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Andrew Holness said his Ministry is aware that some parents may interpret the present debate in such a way as to relieve themselves entirely of any contribution to the schools which could result in significant revenue fallout in the operation of the schools. To this end, his Ministry would be launching a public education campaign promoting partnership and participation between the school, the parent and the community, in the provision of the education service.
In supporting the government’s position, the National Parent-Teachers Association of Jamaica emphasized that parents are strongly being encouraged to contribute to the education of their children. The Association urged parents to dialogue with the schools and to maintain a climate of mutual respect.
The Minister also addressed the issue of the textbooks and alerted the meeting that the Ministry would be developing guidelines for booklists.
In relation to the model for financing education, Mr. Holness said his Ministry would now be looking at defining the core education service for which government would be responsible and setting the minimum standards that schools must abide by in the delivery of the core service.
The meeting agreed that continued consultations will be pursued with key stakeholders.