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Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, has said that public schools have been allocated 50 per cent of their tuition support for the year, which is double the level of support they would normally have received by now.
Mr. Holness told a press briefing, on the back-to-school situation, at his Ministry, Heroes Circle, Kingston, Thursday (August 27), that $1.1billion was disbursed to the schools in August.
“As of today, I can report that all schools would have now received 50 percent of their tuition support. Normally, they would have received a quarter of their tuition support, but this year we have given them 50 per cent, so that they can better plan with this extra infusion of cash,” Mr. Holness said.
“I am hoping that the Principals will use this in a very frugal way, given the difficult financial circumstances that the country is in right now. Early next year, the Government will try to give them the other half, so that they can again properly plan and provide for the next half of the school year,” he added.
On the issue of auxiliary school fees, the Education Minister noted that no child should be excluded from getting an education, because their parents or guardians cannot afford to pay those fees.
“We do not want it to be interpreted as saying that parents should not contribute to the education of their children. So, we leave the realm of auxiliary contributions to the parents and the school. That is the purpose of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA),” Mr. Holness explained.
He also noted that the auxiliary fees should match a service.
“You could ask for a fee for your development fund, but your development fund must match a service: You are building an auditorium; you are paving the entrance to the school. So, it’s not a trust fund that you are building, you are creating a fund that matches a service,” Mr. Holness insisted.
He also asked that schools pay attention to the guidelines the Ministry has put in place for auxiliary fees.
“For example, this year we say you should not increase your fees, given the difficult times that are being experienced. We give them guidance to say that the inability of parents to pay the auxiliary contribution should not deprive the child of any service that is being subsidised or wholly provided by the Government,” Mr. Holness said.
“But clearly, if it is a matter, for example (I know some schools do this) if you don’t pay your auxiliary fees then you can’t play on the cricket team, or you can’t play on the football team. I am not going to get the Ministry involved in that. I would say to schools that the purpose of education is to include everyone and, as far as you can, you should try and include everyone,” he added.
Mr. Holness said that the new school term will begin on Monday, September 7, but noted that some schools may decide to open earlier, to have early initiations and orientations for their grades seven and nine students.

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