- Ian Allen/Staff Photographer
Minister of Education Maxine Henry-Wilson reads to grades one and two students at the Clan Carthy Primary School in Kingston in May.
Gareth Manning, Sunday Gleaner Reporter
Despite Government's instructions not to increase tuition fees for the new academic year, many schools in the Corporate Area are hiking supplementary charges and lumping them into tuition fees.
Supplementary charges include voluntary contributions to parent -teacher associations (PTA), and school development projects. In some schools these charges total as high as $12,000 and they are higher than the regulated school fee in many cases.
Speaking with The Sunday Gleaner, vice-principal of Ardenne High School, Merle Bingham, said the fees for first to fifth form students, though seemingly high, were not dissimilar to miscellaneous fees being charged by other traditional Corporate Area schools. She added that the additional charges were necessary for the development of the institution.
"I'm sure you are aware what it takes to run an institution of 1,800 students, to give them the best that we can. It is not any substandard thing they are getting," she said. "And based on the type of society in which we live and in which the Ministry of Education only pays teachers' salary, what can I say?"
Minister of Education, Maxine Henry-Wilson, while addressing teachers a week ago at their annual conference, acknowledged that the ministry was receiving reports of high fees, but she urged schools to introduce a system that would allow them to collect the funds without embarrassing the student.
But at least one student body is calling for policies to monitor the increases, and said it would be seeking to have dialogue with the ministry on the matter.
"Each year the fee is increased and some schools still have deplorable bathroom conditions [and] canteen conditions," commented Tamian Beckford, president of the National Secondary Students' Council.
"The infrastructure in the school is down ... If they are charging these fees and we the students can't see where this is going, then there needs to be some questions and some answers," he argued.
He intends to write to the Minister of Education to have dialogue about the implementation of a possible policy to limit the annual increase in fees.
Secondary school fees, forms 1-5
School dev. fee: $7,500
PTA fee: $1,200
Lab fee: $3,500
Tuition fee: $4,250
Total school fee: $16,450
Auxiliary fee: $7,500
PTA fee: $1,500
Tuition fee: $4,000
Total school fee: $13,000
Immaculate Conception High
Support fee: $1,750
Home fee: $8,000
Tuition fee: $4,250
Total school fee: $14,000
Total school fees at sixth form
Kingston College: $19,000
Supplementary charges include voluntary contributions to parent-teacher associations (PTA), and school development projects.