Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
A fifth-form student of Edith Dalton James High School in St Andrew is claiming that he was removed from an examination room yesterday because his auxiliary fees were unpaid.
The student told The Gleaner that he was in his class minutes before an examination was scheduled to begin, when students who have fees outstanding were told that they would not be allowed to sit the examination.
"When we got out of the class, we were there waiting to see what would happen. I left after the examination started when I saw that they wouldn't let us in," the student told The Gleaner.
Ray Howell, principal of the school, said the institution tried innovative ways to collect the $7,000 auxiliary fee for each student. He said parents were asked to write commitment letters for payment before the students could sit the examination.
"I tell them to put it in writing, and once they do that, I sign off on it and send it to the vice-principal," Howell said.
He told The Gleaner that he was not aware of any student who was not allowed to sit the examination as a result of the non-payment of fees.
GIVING A LISTENING EAR
"About 20 students wrote letters themselves today (yesterday) outlining the situations at home," the principal said.
"I signed off on those letters and all I required of them is their parents' cell numbers. Therefore, (there is) no child who comes to the institution who has given a case (and) we have not listened to the case," Howell said.
Howell said the school faces critical financial challenges as the compliance rate for payment continues to be under 30 per cent each year. He said it is important that parents assist in ensuring the functioning of the plant.
"While the ministry gives us a cost-sharing grant, it is not enough because of the increased cost for electricity, water and other school-operation activities," Howell said.
In the meantime, Everton Hannam, president of the National Parent-Teacher Association, while opting not to comment on the Edith Dalton James case, said parents should enter into arrangements with the schools where auxiliary fees are a concern.
"Some ways should be found to ensure that the fees are paid, but certainly not allowing the children to take the exam is backward thinking," Hannam said.
Late yesterday, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites said while auxilary fees are obligatory, students should not be excluded from school activities.
"No student is to be excluded from examination or any school activity because of non-payment of fees. It is a clear policy, but every student should make all effort to assist the schools with the expenses that they themselves are benefiting from," the minister said.