THE EDITOR, Sir:
The private-education sector has been collapsing rapidly since 2010. I have counted 24 institutions that have shuttered, including some very popular ones, as a result of financial instability.
The Ministry of Education has turned a blind eye to what is happening in the sector. Only one such institution, to my knowledge, was ever rescued by the Government of Jamaica, and the owner of that institution was appointed to the Government.
I know for a fact that many of the currently operating schools are fighting the battle of their lives to stay afloat. Many of these institutions are facing the possibility of closing their doors because of the students' inability to pay tuition fees.
Year after year, I have seen one particular institution write off millions in outstanding tuition fees as students sit their exams and never return, not even for the results, which is now a stockpile. With the International Monetary Fund (IMF) regime and budgetary constraints, things have taken a turn for the worse.
DOING GREAT JOB
Jamaica's private secondary schools have been doing a tremendous job of cleaning up the Government's mess. Thousands of students fall through the state system yearly, with insufficient passes to gain matriculation to higher learning or to secure decent wages. Private secondary schools have moulded these students into achievement aspirants.
I am appealing to the Government to make an effort, even if not financial, to help struggling private schools. One such means is to provide a government guarantee on loans to assist these ailing institutions. Another means (which may be contrary to the IMF requirements) is to provide tax holidays for a fixed period so as to allow them to stabilise.
Whatever method of assistance offered to these institutions would be more than deserving to a sector in our economy that contributes so much to nation building.
Minister of Education, Minister of Finance, I urge you to meet with the heads of these schools or their umbrella organisation, the Jamaica Independent Schools' Association.