Fri | Sep 22, 2017

'I'm the Great Implementer' - Reid rejoices over 'success' of auxiliary fee removal

Published:Tuesday | May 2, 2017 | 5:00 AMJovan Johnson
Ruel Reid

Dubbing himself "The Great Implementer", Education Minister Ruel Reid is reporting that schools have been managing well and without the chaos he claims was predicted by naysayers critical of the abolition of the auxiliary fee system.

And he appears to be getting support from the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA).

"There was such a massive debate last year about our change in funding formula for the education system," Reid told journalists yesterday at a press conference, where he announced the release of $1.3 billion as the final government subvention to high schools for the school year.

"Many persons thought that we were going to bankrupt the system; that the system would have been ruined and we're going to be in chaos. Schools were going to be running out of money and the worst was going to happen," he added.

But, he continued, "I'm happy to report that we have been able to successfully implement this policy."

The Opposition and some school principals had expressed concerns that the removal of the auxiliary fees would curtail the channels to get additional money to supplement Government support.

But Reid argued yesterday that the Government followed through with its commitment to increase funding to more than $5 billion for the 2016-2017 school year, which ends in July. He also said that the amount would be increased to $7.2 billion for the new academic year to start September.

The local teachers' union says administrators appeared to be fine with the system.

"We have not really got any feedback to say it's not working," said JTA President Howard Isaacs. "We may have got a few persons indicating that in their cases, there were one or two challenges with it, but for the most part, the feedback we're getting from colleagues suggests that they are trying their utmost to work with the proposal."

Traditional high-school administrators, Isaacs noted, are among those who have expressed concerns.

Under the new funding formula, the Government releases funds four times throughout the year. The $1.3 billion is the fourth and last for the current period.

Schools' financial statements to be made public- Reid

Ruel Reid said that the Government could not cap the amount that schools may request parents to contribute. The institutions, he said, should discuss a figure with their parent-teacher associations and submit it to the ministry for approval.

For this year, according to Reid, parents contributed about $893 million out of the $2.1 billion that schools wanted in addition to the Government's funding. That's about 43 per cent of the amount and within the level that existed before the removal of the auxiliary fees.

For accountability, he said, the ministry would be more rigorous in its assessment and that schools' financial statements will be made public.