Expose them!

Parents want schools which violate tuition fee policy to be penalised

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, August 18, 2018

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PRESIDENT of the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ) Lennon Richards says schools must abide by the Ministry of Education's no- tuition-fee policy, and that those who deviate from the rules must be penalised.

“I want the ministry to expose any school authority of administrators who violate the no-tuition-fee policy,” he insisted at the ministry's first parent sensitisation and consultation sessions, held Thursday evening at Merl Grove High School in St Andrew.

In a Jamaica Observer interview following the meeting, Richards said, “The Government has established a no-tuition-fee policy in schools and schools should abide by this policy. Of course schools need money to run their operations, but there are ingenious ways that can make these operations successful; there are various ways of generating funds. Parents are already burdened with many things, and the no-tuition- fee policy, if it is being violated in any way or form, the ministry should expose these schools…”

According to Richards, there are “subtle” ways of dealing with administrators who breach the policy, such as dispatching ministry personnel to the institutions to have the violations addressed. He stressed, however, that this should be done to avoid any form of confrontation.

“The parents who are affected should [be advised] that a violation has taken place and the administrators should retract (refund) any sort of violation which would have been done. So, it's just a subtle and polite way to say please don't violate the no-tuition-fee policy,” he added.

In September 2007, the then Government abolished compulsory school fees or tuition fees for students at the secondary level, and took on the payment of these charges, under a full subsidy policy.

In June this year, the education ministry advised that registration packages for secondary-level students should be kept between a cost of $1,000 and $5,200, and that school administrators should adhere to the directive, which is in keeping with the funding guidelines for public schools.

The Government is absorbing the costs for core operations at the secondary level, while parents will continue to make contributions to school development and sports. The ministry also said there should be no increase in parent contribution for the upcoming academic year and that all charges for registration packages must first be approved by the ministry, with a clear breakdown of what the package includes. The ministry also made it clear that non-payment of fees should not affect placement or registration of students at these institutions.

The Government is providing $8.3 billion in funding support to secondary schools for the 2018/19 school year, with the largest allocation — $2. 3 billion — in region six. Twenty-five per cent of the funds have been released so far.

The sensitisation forum, which had its main address from Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid, focused on critical matters relating to policy and programmes, including the no-tuition-fee policy, implementation of the national standards curriculum, and the primary exit profile, among other programmes.

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