Counting the costs of learning
Financial requirements for a quality primary school
Peter-John Gordon, guest columnist
This series of articles comes out of work done for the Education
Cluster of the 50|50 project spearheaded by the Sir Arthur Lewis
Institute of Social and Economic Studies at UWI (Mona). This project is a
reflection on the first 50 years of Independence in the Anglophone
Caribbean, and preparation for the next 50 years. This second instalment
deals with the primary school.
We start with our ideal primary
school consisting of 450 students. Currently, primary education is
delivered in four types of institutions: primary schools (grades one to
six, and public); preparatory schools (grades one to six, and private);
all-age schools (grades one to nine, and public); and primary and junior
high schools (grades one to nine, and public).
The average class
size in our model school will be 25 students. The student-teacher ratio
in such a school is 21.4:1 (this does not include teachers on leave).
Included in the teacher corps are a principal, a vice-principal, a
guidance counsellor and a librarian. It is assumed that the
vice-principal is also a classroom teacher. The current student-teacher
ratios are: for the public system 24.6:1 and preparatory 16:1.
our configuration of the educational system, public primary education
would be delivered exclusively in primary schools. We would dispense
with the all-age schools and the primary and junior high schools. Each
school would be dedicated to either the primary or the secondary level
We make the same assumption about a primary-school
teacher as we do about a high-school teacher, i.e., the teacher is a
trained graduate. Currently, 42 per cent of teachers teaching at the
primary level are so trained.
Academic staff cost
to estimate academic staff cost per annum, we take the current salary
scale as given (based on the heads of agreement between the Government
of Jamaica and the Jamaica Teachers' Association from April 2008 to
March 31, 2010), make adjustments for inflation (7.9 per cent to March
2011 and a further 7.3 per cent to March 2012) and make assumptions as
to where on the scale the 'average' teacher would fall.
that the average principal is a principal of a primary III school being
paid at the fourth increment of a six-increment scale i.e. $2.8 million
per annum. We assume that a vice-principal is at the fourth increment of
a six-increment scale being paid $2,239,000 per annum (we adjust the
special teachers' allowance payable to vice-principals to the level paid
to principals to sufficiently differentiate the payments to a
vice-principal and a teacher).
We assume the same rate of pay for
teachers in the primary schools as in high schools. We also assume the
same ratio of senior teachers to teachers (30 per cent senior teachers).
The cost of an 'average teacher' is, therefore, $1,796,000 per annum.
The academic staff cost in our primary school with one principal, one
vice-principal and 19 teachers (inclusive of NIS and NHT) is $40,911,600
Administrative Staff Cost
The administrative staff cost for our model school are as seen in Table 1.
the size of the primary school compared to a high school, the tasks of
bursar and registrar are combined. This person, like in the high school,
is raised to the level of a vice-principal and paid accordingly.
the primary school, we do not designate a plant manager, instead, we
use a maintenance manager - a different nomenclature is used to indicate
that the tasks required of this person at a primary school is likely to
be less onerous than his/her counterpart at a high school.
Ancillary Staff Cost
Ancillary Staff costing is presented in Table 2.
estimate for administrative expenses (non-salary cost) for our model
primary school is $4.5 million per year. This will cover utility bills,
cleaning material, stationery, etc.
We estimate the cost for teaching/
learning supplies to be $1.8 million.
Co-curricular activities are estimated to cost $1.8 million.
estimating the maintenance cost of our model primary school, we make
the assumption that a primary-school student utilises approximately 50
per cent of the space utilised by a high-school student. A high-school
has more space dedicated to specific activities - science laboratories,
industrial arts workshops, gymnasiums, auditoriums, etc. For a
high-school student, we estimated a maintenance cost of $35,000 per
student. We estimate a maintenance cost at primary school of $18,000 per
Estimated Cost of Operating Our Model Primary School
Table 3 summarises the cost of operating our model primary school for a year.
that the estimates do not include cost of teachers on leave, any
welfare programmes delivered through the school (e.g., school feeding or
school books) or the cost for any net addition to the capital stock of
Peter-John Gordon is lecturer in the Department of Economics, UWI, Mona. Email feedback to email@example.com.
Administrative Staff Cost (Primary School)
|Number||Position||Unit Cost J$||Cost J$|
Ancillary Staff Cost (Primary School)
|Number||Position||Per Unit Cost J$||Cost J$|
Estimate for the Operation of the Model Primary School
|Cost J$||Cost per Student J$|
|Total Staff Cost||51,444,625||114,321|
|Total Recurrent Expenditure||59,244,625||131,655|
|Total Annual Cost||67,344,625||149,655|