MANDEVILLE — Minister of Education, Andrew Holness, has reiterated that the Government has a no obligatory fees policy at the primary level and schools should not force parents, without the financial means to pay.
He said investigations carried out by the Ministry reveal that many parents are willing to pay fees to have their children placed at high-performing primary schools, and where it is insisted that payments are made, it serves as an obstacle for those with financial challenges and cannot afford to pay.
“We have to ensure equity in the society otherwise, it is only those persons who can afford good education will get good education; that won’t inure positively for us in the future,” the Education Minister stated at a recent meeting with board chairmen of schools in Manchester held at the Church Teachers’ College in Mandeville.
He advised that where school administrators wish to obtain financial contributions from parents, this must be done through consultation and respect.
“It is not that schools can’t ask for contributions, schools are encouraged to sit with parents and work out what contributions parents will make, but no child is to be deprived by virtue of their economic circumstances,” the Minister insisted.
Mr. Holness urged the board chairmen to direct their principals to identify, in a discreet and respectful way, those students, who have difficulties in meeting the subsidiary costs and to “where a student comes to your school and they don’t have the ability to pay, that programmes are in place to assist as best and as far as you can."
The Education Minister also decried the practise of some schools giving coloured lunch tickets to students, who benefit under the Programme for Advancement through Health and Education (PATH).
“That must not happen in our education system so as board chairmen, I am asking you that when you go back to your institutions, you sit with your principals and you ask them how the nutrition programme is executed in your school and is there any form of discrimination,” he urged.
“Remember, you are dealing with young students, many of them come to the school with low self-esteem already and you don’t want to further complicate that and destroy their self esteem,” he added.
Minister Holness further encouraged the chairmen to get involved in setting standards for the operation and management of the institution and to play their part in the attainment of universal literacy at the primary level.
By GARFIELD L. ANGUS, JIS Reporter