MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Education Minister Ronald Thwaites is reiterating that students on the welfare programme PATH (Programme of Advancement through Health and Education) should not be required by high schools to pay auxiliary fees.
"They do not have to pay auxiliary fees... but if they can make any contribution towards the school — out of goodwill and in the interest of their children — they should do so," the minister told the Jamaica Observer.
He was responding to queries triggered by reports that some students on the PATH programme, who are by definition from impoverished homes, were being pressured by some schools in south central Jamaica to pay auxiliary fees.
"Any case where it is demanded for a student on PATH, I should know about it, it is against the regulations for them (schools) to do that," said Thwaites.
The education minister said efforts were being made by his ministry to get additional funds to those schools with large numbers of PATH students because of the recognition that those schools were at a severe disadvantage.
"We recognise that the schools with a large number of PATH students are prejudiced ... and we are in discussion with the Ministry of Labour (and Social Security) and the Planning Agency to see if an amount for the PATH students can be contributed to the schools in order to make up ( for the shortfall of auxiliary fees) but that is not yet a reality and in the meanwhile parents of Path students are not obliged to pay auxiliary fees," Thwaites said.