Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
Parent complains as institutions charge hefty auxiliary fees
At least one parent is hitting out against the huge sums being charged by some secondary schools for auxiliary fees.
Janet, who said her son would be attending a prominent school in the Corporate Area, will have to fork out $17,000 to pay for his education.
"The fees that I will have to pay for my son are far too high. The schools are heartless," said the mother who asked that her last name not be used. "It seems as if they are catering for only one set of people in society, so what will happen to the poor? Is it that they should sit and watch only the richer class excel?"
Janet said while she believed parents should pay for their children, the fees were far too high, especially at a time when tuition fees have been abolished in the public schools.
"The fees that the schools are charging are high, so if tuition wasn't abolished then what would happen if we were to pay for everything? Maybe we would have a lot of students who wouldn't be able to go to school," she added.
A check by The Gleaner at some schools in the Corporate Area revealed that institutions are charging as high as $25,000.
After the Government abolished tuition fees in secondary schools, many parents had expected a reprieve from exorbitant rates.
But Clayton Hall, president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association, said the fees are charged based on the operational expenses at the different schools.
Hall argued that the fees were charged in consultation with the parents through the parent-teacher associations (PTAs).
"The different schools offer different programmes and as such, based on the cost of these programmes, the schools have to set these fees to compensate.
"If there is a concern with the auxiliary fees, then it should be rooted through the PTA because a group of parents will come together and determine that they want a particular programme and they are willing to finance it, but when new parents join they may find the cost exorbitant," he argued.
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites also came out in defence of the schools.
Alluding to two of the top high schools which are charging astronomical fees, which The Gleaner brought to his attention, Thwaites stressed that those schools were offering programmes of a high quality.
"What they charging the money for is very important. You can't just look at the funds. These schools offer extremely high-quality programmes and what the parent ought to do is to go to the school and ask for it to be set out in terms of what is it that is covered.
"The important thing is the figure and the affordability, but very importantly is what you getting for it," he said.
President of the National Parent Teachers' Association, Everton Hannam, said the association was deeply concerned about how the schools arrive at the figures.
Hannam said there should be a standard procedure that the schools should follow when they are arriving at the fees for the year.
"There should be some price range as to where those school fees should be so that at least there can be a uniformed approach to the charges and then there should be a payment plan as the fees are in addition to the booklist and the uniform," he said.
The Ministry of Education issued a warning last week to school administrators that students on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education and wards of the state should not be barred from entering the institutions for the non-payment of auxiliary fees, instead they should be granted a waiver on auxiliary fees.
If your child is barred from entering school on Monday as a result of a failure to pay auxiliary fees, contact Nadisha Hunter via email or at 932-6185.