Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
FIRST-TIME MEMBER of Parliament Damion Crawford has suggested that the State should peg the disbursement of PATH grants to the attendance of parents at parent-teacher association (PTA) meetings.
Crawford has proposed that a mechanism be worked out to allow continued disbursement of funds to be based on the school's principal signing prescribed documents to indicate a parent of the beneficiary has been attending PTA meetings.
At the same time, the East Rural St Andrew representative said schools should consider accepting payment in kind from parents who cannot find the cash to pay auxiliary fees.
The suggestions were made in the House of Representatives on Tuesday during the debate on the National Parenting Support Act.
Crawford argued that access to quality education is being affected negatively by schools' inadequate funding, which is due in part to some parents' inability to contribute to their children's education.
He said some schools in his constituencies have collected less than 30 per cent of auxiliary fees, which are due, and argued that the institutions have many labour needs.
He said parents who are incapable of affording fees could contribute their efforts to the fixing of problems within these schools.
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites welcomed the suggestions.
"The parent-teacher association must take a new responsibility in Jamaica," Thwaites said, while adding he would be giving due consideration to the suggestion.
He also said, "The notion of offering the abatement of fees for effort in school management, repairs, services is much worthy of consideration.
"There are many who would want to offer sweat equity in order to settle their obligations, which they are embarrassed to do so by way of cash," Thwaites said.
In the meantime, the House passed the bill without amendments. It will now be sent to the Senate.
If passed into law, it would pave the way for the National Parenting Commission to do its work.
The commission is guided by the national vision for parenting, which says the best interest of the child is always promoted and the child is always loved and provided with opportunities and resources, within a safe, caring and nurturing environment, to achieve his/her full potential and ultimate fulfilment.
Thwaites said the advertisements for the appropriate officers to staff the commission will be done shortly.