Wed | Sep 18, 2019

PNP calls for clear funding plan for schools, CAP audit

Published:Tuesday | August 20, 2019 | 12:20 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer
Opposition Spokesperson on Education Ronald Thwaites addresses journalists at the People’s National Party (PNP) headquarters in 
St Andrew yesterday. Chairman of the PNP Commission on Education, Elaine Foster Allen (right), and Patricia Sutherland look on.
Opposition Spokesperson on Education Ronald Thwaites addresses journalists at the People’s National Party (PNP) headquarters in St Andrew yesterday. Chairman of the PNP Commission on Education, Elaine Foster Allen (right), and Patricia Sutherland look on.

Opposition Spokesperson on Education Ronald Thwaites yesterday called for a clear funding plan for schools where parents are unable to pay auxiliary fees.

“The schools cannot do without the money – the contributions that come from parental engagement. Warning principals and, on occasions, considering them extortionate does no justice to their need or to the quality of education everyone desires for our children,” Thwaites said at a People’s National Party press conference yesterday.

“If the contributions by parents, which schools need, are to be abolished, then the Government must now – not in the future – provide the additional money so that schools can maintain the highest levels of performance [and] offer the highest levels of education without calling upon external groups, such as parents, to provide,” Thwaites continued.

‘Needs to be done now’

His comments came after Junior Education Minister Alando Terrelonge’s Sunday statement speaking of impending changes to the funding formula for public high schools in light of discord over auxiliary fees charged by schools.

Thwaites said that while he agreed with the move, the ministry should act now. He said funding to schools should be based on need.

“We would be glad to see that happen, but not in the future. It needs to be done now. You cannot give Haile Selassie and Eltham High and Merlene Ottey the same amount of money that Campion gets and expect that you’re going to have a similar outcome. Why not now? This country is flush with cash,” Thwaites said.

Value for money?

Opposition Spokesperson on Education Ronald Thwaites is calling for an audit into the Career Advancement Programme (CAP).

“... We are asking for a full audit of the Career Advancement Programme to ensure that we are getting value for money and that we are addressing the fact that, in many instances, the CAP programme is stymied because it turns out to be a literacy programme, because so many of those who enrol, whether or not they attend, is because they simply cannot read and write even at that stage,” he said.

Thwaites was speaking yesterday at a press conference at the People’s National Party’s headquarters in St Andrew.

He made this call against the backdrop of the decline in the attendance rate for CAP classes even though enrolment has increased.

Chairman of the PNP’s Education Commission, Elaine Foster-Allen, said that in 2015, there were 6,000 students registered for the programme, compared to 2019, when there are more than 10,000.

She said the attendance rate for mathematics has fallen from 71 per cent in 2016 to 66 per cent in 2019, while the attendance for English has fallen from 70 per cent in 2015 to 64 per cent in 2019.

Introduced in 2010, CAP is a state initiative to respond to the increasing number of persons who complete secondary-level education without any formal certification and have not matriculated to post-secondary education or work.

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com