Sat | Dec 16, 2017

Letter of the Day | Gov't funding for education unprecedented

Published:Tuesday | August 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Your editorial writers have been repeating that the funding to students in the public system amounts to an average $17,000 per child as against $11,500 before. This is despite your own reporting of August 24 from the recent Jamaica Teachers' Association annual conference in which the minister of education, youth and information, Senator Ruel Reid, outlined the substantial increase in funding that the State now provides to the public education system.

For the record, the following points have been made by Senator Reid and are repeated here in the expectation that it will help to put into better context the Government's contribution to public education, especially at the secondary level.

- As it is now, the Government spends $37,699,624,361 on secondary education alone, which includes salaries, grants, TVET, ICT, science, infrastructure, furniture and nutrition. That means some schools will see a higher per capita of $119,000 and some will see $176,994 per capita at the secondary level.

- The parental contributions request per student per school range from approximately $2,000 to more than $40,000. The compliance rate, on average, was below 50 per cent last year.

- While the ministry's policy is to fund education up to the secondary level, we still believe that parents' contribution is necessary to build effective schools and to add value, and so the ministry has consistently encouraged parents to contribute. Please note, however, that where a parent cannot pay, the children should not be denied access.

- Almost 50 per cent of our students are on PATH. The fact is some parents cannot find $100,000 per student for fees/contributions and supplies for back to school.

The point is, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information now pays far more for operational expenses than most schools were able to cover with their receipts from parents and the previous amounts allocated by the state. In addition, with the new policy to make funds available to schools much earlier than they were accustomed to receiving, schools have not had the cash flow headaches of previous years. In fact, by their own accounts, many have been able to move out of operating in the red to having a surplus on their accounts.

We trust this helps in your future analyses.

COLIN STEER

Director, Corporate Communication

Ministry of Education, Youth and Information