Sun | Sep 22, 2019

Letter of the Day | Abolish auxiliary fees in schools now

Published:Thursday | August 22, 2019 | 12:16 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I thought auxiliary fees were long abolished, but it appears that I am wrong.

Year after year, parents are forced to pay these ‘contributions’ for their child/children to remain in school, or even to graduate.

We have heard the stories of students being denied taking part in valedictory services because they owe these ‘outstanding’ funds.

I’m now forced to agree with the opposition spokesperson on education and training, Ronald Thwaites, who insists that the government pays these fees.

In the most recent People’s National Party press conference, he noted that the country is flushed with funds, so why can’t the government cover these costs?

In fact, there has been so much prosperity that it should not be a problem.

Back in 2016, the former education minister, Ruel Reid, had announced the removal of auxiliary fees in high schools for the next academic year. He said this will be facilitated by increasing the ministry’s subvention to schools for tuition, from $11,500 to $19,000.

He went further to note that the ministry was devising a formula to ensure that there was equity in the amount of subvention to each school towards tuition fees.

I guess we have forgotten this announcemen; and auxiliary fees are back in.

The idea is for all children to access free education, but apparently that is not the case. Instead, parents are handed vouchers with fees that could have otherwise covered the cost of textbooks for the term and beyond.

NEW APPROACH

The government needs to take a different approach, and although state minister Alando Terrelonge has called for schools to not deny access to those who can’t pay, it will happen.

It is time to change this approach. Consider the future of Jamaica’s children. Consider those who can’t afford these fees and step in to address the issue.

Let us turn over a new leaf and make this right in the education system.

Andre Heslop

andreheslop9@gmail com