JIS News

Opposition Spokesman for Education, Andrew Holness, has called on the government to remove the fee structure for newly upgraded high schools this year, as a step towards a system of free education up to the secondary level.
His comments came against a commitment by the government to work towards the removal of school fees at the secondary level.
Mr. Holness, who was making his contribution to the 2006/2007 Budget Debate in Gordon House on Wednesday (May 3), said that until that commitment was fulfilled, a move to remove the fees from upgraded high schools would go a far way towards ensuring equity in the secondary system, where traditional high schools enjoyed better physical resources and more qualified teachers.
“We have to find a way to remove inequity from the secondary system.I am asking the government to remove school fees from newly upgraded schools. This would immediately increase the inflows to those schools and would remove their dependency on the collection of uncertain school fees,” Mr. Holness argued.
He further called on the government to increase its allocation of the national budget to education from 11 per cent to 15 per cent.
On another matter, the Opposition spokesman proposed that the government develop a “national policy for the Jamaican family”.
He said the need for such a policy was due to the increasing prevalence of female-headed, single-parent households, many of which were headed by young women, 24 years or younger, who faced a 35 per cent chance of being unemployed. This, he said, directly impacted the ability of the economy to grow and prosper.
“The growing acceptance of a single-head household places greater strain on the economic resources of a poorer country than on a richer country, because you now have to split everything in two. You need more houses, more cars, it’s more difficult to manage your children and you spend more money on electricity because consumption is greater. So, those persons who believe that we must not interfere in what is happening in the family, we must not have a policy on family, I say to them, you can’t run a society unless you’re running the family,” Mr. Holness noted. He further proposed the establishment of a special committee, involving the church, academia, non governmental and family advocate groups, members of parliament and the relevant government ministries, to consider the best family structure for Jamaica, and to consider ways to influence the society towards adopting that ideal.