KINGSTON — Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, has warned schools collecting supplementary fees from students on PATH (Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education), that the action is a violation of Government policy.
Mr. Holness said that policy is that children benefiting from PATH should not pay auxiliary fees at the high school level. He was speaking at a press briefing at his Ministry, National Heroes Circle, Kingston, on Friday August 19.
“If a child is on PATH, that child is already assessed by the state as not being able to meet certain financial obligations and, therefore, the child should not be placed in an embarrassing position to be required to pay fees,” he stated, adding that these cases must be reported to the Ministry to be dealt with, immediately.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Audrey Sewell, said that the Ministry reminds school principals of the policy, annually, through a bulletin which also details the names of students who should be exempted. She said that the Ministry, being fully aware of the financial challenges of the schools, provides support to those institutions admitting large numbers of PATH beneficiaries and wards of the state.
“These requests are treated with on a school by school basis, once the information is submitted. It must be noted that a significant part of auxiliary fees cover personal items for students, such as ties, badges, handbooks, physical education gear as well as coats for practical areas,” she noted.
“In some instances, therefore, the Ministry provides support for these items to be provided to the special students,” she pointed out.
In the 2010/2011 academic year, the Ministry disbursed over $1 million to schools to assist with the welfare needs of some students. PATH is a conditional cash transfer (CCT) programme, funded by the Government of Jamaica and the World Bank, which gives cash grants to the most needy and vulnerable in the society.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter