JLP holds firm on free tuition
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), as it has done in the past, is committing to the removal of all obligatory fees at the secondary level.
The public should note that in delivering on its undertaking in the lead-up to the September 2007 general election, and advancing towards universal access to education, the JLP Government removed tuition fees at the secondary level.
However, since the change of administration following the December 2011 general election, the JLP's tuition-free policy has been reversed as Education Minister Ronnie Thwaites has declared that fees at the secondary level are obligatory.
The public should note that when the JLP Government of 2007-2011 removed tuition fees at the secondary level, as a policy directive, there were no fees that were compulsory. Therefore, while schools charged auxiliary fees and received contributions from parents and other stakeholders toward education, none of those contributions were obligatory.
In effect, an inability to make a payment/contribution towards education did not place parents or their children in the embarrassing position of being denied or restricted in terms of access.
With the People's National Party Government having returned to a policy of compulsory fees at the secondary level, what obtains at present is a situation where parents are being subjected to embarrassment and the all-important objective of universal access to education is being compromised. This policy is inimical to universal access to education and is a retrograde step.
The JLP also considers the financing of tertiary education as a priority area.