Put 50% of CHASE funds into education
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The funding of education is a big issue in Jamaica.
On the one hand, the hapless minister of education, Ruel Reid, is positing that his ministry has shown commitment to education by increasing funding from J$11,500 to J$17,000. Obviously this is a step in the right direction. However, some administrators claim that this sum is quite paltry, depending on the programmes offered by the school.
Though Jamaica may be experiencing a fiscal crisis, this administration can find appropriate funding for education, if political will is exercised. The CHASE Fund has a surplus of cash that could be used to finance education at all levels. But, currently, most of its funding is invested in sports, with education receiving 25 per cent.
No one is undermining the importance of sports, but we need to get our priorities right as a country. Education is definitely more important than sports. It is disturbing to note that only a few voices in the media have been clamouring for changes to be made to how CHASE disburses funds.
Therefore, it would be appropriate for the law governing the CHASE Fund to be altered so that the country can get its priorities in order. At present, 40 per cent of those funds go to sports, with education getting 25 per cent; health, 20 per cent; and arts and culture, 15 per cent.
With the proposed funding structure, education should get 50 per cent; health, 35 per cent; and five per cent to sports, scientific research, and arts and culture. In addition, after increasing allocation to education, the distribution of the funding is another matter.
The minister with responsibility for education will have to decide how much money will be invested in the National Education Trust, which is responsible for financing the infrastructure of schools, and what percentage of the funding will be used to finance secondary and tertiary education.
Further, if our politicians are serious about sports and culture, they will scrap the Constituency Development Fund and invest the funds in these sectors. We cannot continue to have misplaced priorities. Let's get our act together.