Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, has reiterated his call for early childhood and primary school administrators to reassess their spending on extravagant graduation ceremonies.
Mr. Thwaites said while he is not against graduations, he believes the ceremonies must not be wasteful or excessive events. "Graduation can’t cost more than the school fees," he stated on May 21, while addressing a parenting seminar held at the Franklin Town Primary School in Kingston.
“I come across a basic school in another part of this (Central Kingston) constituency and the fee for the school is $4,500 for the term, and the fee for the graduation is $11,000. How does that make sense?” the Minister asked.
He further informed that he has been invited to a graduation ceremony for a basic school, which will be held at a "big hotel ballroom" in Kingston.
"That school, which is a country school, is in great need of all kinds of new equipment, desk and chairs. It doesn’t have a lunch programme that takes care of everybody, but they are spending the money to go and have an evening’s function to pose up," he lamented.
Mr. Thwaites encouraged parents to invest the funds in the child’s transition to the primary or secondary school systems, rather than wasting it on a single function.
He said a school leaving ceremony held at the school or the community centre, where the children dress in their uniforms, would be a more affordable option than a grand graduation ceremony.
Meanwhile, Mr. Thwaites told the seminar participants that their most important responsibility in life is to be a good parent to their children.
"The most important thing that anybody can be in life is not to be Prime Minister or Usain Bolt, but to be a good parent. A good parent doesn’t mean you have a lot of money to buy Nike and (expensive) clothes; it means that you care for your child. To be a mother or a father is a big responsibility in the eyes of God and in the eyes of society,” the Education Minister remarked.
The seminar was organised by the Franklin Town Community Consultative Committee in collaboration with officers from the Franklin Town Police Station, and was aimed at improving the parenting skills of residents.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter