Education ministry revises parent contribution policy
The official policy of the Ministry of Education is for secondary schools to abolish auxiliary fees and instead request non-mandatory parent contributions not exceeding $20,000.
That policy has, however, been revised following a meeting, earlier this month, with church school representatives and the officials of the education ministry.
Some schools have since been granted permission to request contributions above the stipulated cap of $20,000.
For the 2016-2017 academic year, Jamaica College has asked parents to contribute $31,500 in fees, Wolmer's Boys has requested $27,000, while Manchester High, Campion College and Immaculate Conception High have announced fees of $21,000, $30,000 and $44,500, respectively.
This reflects the exact value of the auxiliary fees charged by these schools in the previous academic year.
"We have recognised that even with the change in the funding arrangement policy for secondary schools, some schools are still requesting exorbitant contributions from parents," states a July 4 bulletin sent to principals.
"As a result, we are stipulating that the contribution being requested by schools should not exceed a total of $20,000, inclusive of registration fee. For those schools whose contribution is more than this amount, the specific case must be presented to the respective regional director for approval to be granted."
NEED FOR EXEMPTIONS
Minister of Education Ruel Reid confirmed the revised policy directive.
"The ministry would like to advise the public that, based on the current policy guidelines for the funding of high schools, schools can apply to the education ministry for approval for contribution levels above the cap of $20,000," he said in an email response to The Gleaner.
He explained that exemptions for the cap had to be introduced because of special ownership arrangements, special programmes, school development and endorsement of stakeholders.
"While we reiterate the contributions are non-obligatory, we are still encouraging those who can contribute to education to continue to do so in a spirit of partnership," he explained.
He further emphasised that the term 'auxiliary' fee has been discontinued and that the policy name is now 'parent contribution'.
"The Government has already provided for more than 100 per cent increase ($2.6 billion to more than $5.3 billion) in funding to the sector for the new school year and further commits again to fund schools further for any shortfalls in budget for core services," he said.