More expensive sixth forms are better - Molloy
Having raised sixth-form fees at Ardenne High by 20 per cent, principal of the school Nadine Molloy has argued that such an increase is justified given that well-funded sixth-form programmes tend to produce better results.
In an interview with The Gleaner, Molloy relayed her experiences as principal of two schools with disparate profiles.
"Excellence comes at a cost and I believe I am in a position to make a comparison having been principal at Buff Bay High, where I could barely collect any money for fees ... so, guess what? You could barely provide any engaging activity because some things do count," she said.
Molloy further posited that funding affects the quality of a school's sixth-form programme.
"Funding does affect the quality of the programme, for example, when you take this whole matter to do with labs, you just have to have well-functioning labs that have the equipment that you need. And you need to have teachers who can deliver at that level if you want to continue to have 100 per cent passes," she added.
for complementary staff
She explained that a portion of sixth-form fees is used to pay part-time teachers who are brought on board to complement the teaching staff for the sixth-form programme.
"Having been in a school where you could not collect fees, to now, where I can collect more, it is very important for us to understand that there is a major difference with the schools where we are able to collect fees to support the teaching and learning activities than with the schools that are not able to collect," she said.
regional sixth-form colleges
Sharing his views on the cost and proliferation of sixth-form programmes, president of the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica Everton Hannam has expressed a preference for what he calls regional sixth-form colleges, which would make it unnecessary for each school to have a sixth -form programme.
"It might be that we need to move to sixth-form colleges where students can go to a central location, probably in an urban centre, but I don't know that every school now needs a sixth form," he said.
He argued that such a move would allow resources to be pulled together so that the cost of sixth-form programmes could be reduced.
While she admits that the issue of funding is at the heart of the inequality in the education system and the society at large, Molloy said that education has to be seen as an investment and that the poor have to make spending in this area a priority.
"Many of those same parents, if they have a child at Buff Bay and they have a child at Ardenne, they will tell you that they are not spending on the child at Buff Bay because the child at Buff Bay is not bright - the one at Ardenne is bright," she argued.