Fri | Mar 23, 2018

Letter of the Day| Auxiliary fees are necessary

Published:Thursday | July 21, 2016 | 12:00 AM


I am happy that I am not involved with the running of a government-aided school at this time as I am sure that I would be very frustrated. From a distance, there seems to be confusion as new expressions, terminologies, sound bites are used to say the same things that were described using other words previously. Is this dishonesty or is it that one is trying to look new and different? I think the latter is the case.

Here are some facts about the present state of schools:

- Government will not be, in the short or medium term and maybe not in my lifetime, able to finance fully all that is needed for the smooth running of all our high schools in their present state.

- There are many categories of high schools at present, each having their peculiar curriculum designed to meet the needs and demands of students and the stakeholders they attract.

- The contributions asked by schools differ greatly in some instances because of the varying curriculum needs.

- Curricula have associated cost that have not and cannot be adequately financed from government bursaries, even at the new increased level.

- The experience of most high schools is that new money is oftentimes used to pay old bills, including water and light.

- Registration fee from new GSAT students, where compliance is greatest, is oftentimes used to pay bills from the previous school year.

- Some traditional high schools are financed heavily by past students? associations, mostly in the area of sports and co-curricular activities.

- Many upgraded high schools will be in a better position because of the increased bursaries to schools.

- The large majority of high schools are unable to afford the costs associated with the variety of sport offerings from ISSA, as their external support is inadequate.

- Students in schools with poor facilities, and are talented, are easily attracted to the more privileged schools.

- Many parents have not and will not be able to afford auxiliary fees/parent contribution.

- There are many parents who gladly pay auxiliary fees as they know the need for it, especially when it is seen to be meeting important objectives.

- No student has been excluded from school, in recent years, because of non-payment of this now apparent INFAMOUS AUXILIARY FEE.

The present minister is a past high school principal but seems unable to empathise with current school leaders. He ran a school that is seen as elite and which had the full support, IN ALL FORMS, from the iconic leader, the Hon R. Danny Williams, his good friends and other old boys. Sometimes, regrettably, our background is not ideally suited for the new challenges we take on. In fairness to the minister, however, he has consistently asked school leaders to present their budgets justifying their need. When leaders respond as requested and challenges still exist, then that is a different story.

What is true, however, is that Government cannot afford to cover all the costs for running schools efficiently and effectively, at this time, and should not give the impression, in any little way, that this is what they are doing. The consequence of that is that parents and other stakeholders will not see the need to make any contribution, even when they can afford to so do.