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Boynes decries ministry's policy towards private schools

Published:Wednesday | November 8, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Kaysia Kerr (right), CEO, National Parenting Support Commission, is greeted by Karlene Bisnott, prinicipal of the Vaz Preparatory School and newly elected president of the Jamaica Independent Schools’ Association (JISA) at the launch of the JISA Congress of Parents held at the Sts Peter and Paul Prepatatory School auditorium yesterday. Looking on is Pastor Wesley Boynes, past president of the JISA.

Immediate past president of the Jamaica Independent Schools' Association (JISA) Wesley Boynes has urged Education Minister Ruel Reid to have a more "broad-minded" approach to private schools.

"We had one meeting with the current minister, and he told us in straight English that public schools are his biological children and private schools are his adopted children. I find something is very wrong with that outlook," Boynes told The Gleaner yesterday at the launch of the JISA Congress of Parents at the Sts Peter and Paul Preparatory School Auditorium along Old Hope Road.

"It is the Ministry of Education, not the ministry of public education, because education is not exclusive to the public sector," Boynes added.

The past president said that while JISA had a more "open" relationship with Reid's predecessor, Ronald Thwaites, the Ministry of Education should not be a politically driven entity.


300 schools closed


"Some plans within the sphere of a single school take years to establish, much less to execute. Therefore, how can you develop proper national education policies within a five-year time frame when you might lose the election and a next minister comes along? The current system cannot work," said Boynes

Last year, Boynes estimated that more than 300 private schools across the island had been shuttered in the previous five years.

In speaking to the issue earlier this year, Reid indicated that it would be unwise to use public money to fund private businesses, even if that business was a school.

We're seeking collaboration, not financial aid!

Cash-strapped private institutions are not seeking financial aid from the Government, but rather, collaboration with the education ministry in key areas that are to the benefit of Jamaican children. Immediate past president of the Jamaica Independent Schools' Association (JISA) Wesley Boynes made that declaration yesterday.

Boynes pointed out that the previous administration had welcomed several efforts to collaborate but none had come to fruition since the new Government came to power.

"Economy of scale and technology are areas in which we can partner that won't cause the Government a cent. If the Government is buying 10,000 desks for their schools, they can enquire how much JISA wants also. We may just want 500, but we would get it at a much cheaper price because the Government is ordering such a large number," Boynes told The Gleaner.

He added: "We also proposed that a JISA representative sit in each education region's planning meeting because a lot of times, plans are bent towards public schools and the interests of private schools are not taken into consideration. So far, that has got nowhere. Additionally, the whole IT in schools initiative, our schools didn't get to participate in that. If the Government pays for a licence from Microsoft, what will it cost them to give private schools the link to access the technology? Private schools are very important nation-building entities. They're much more than businesses."