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No need to force students to get supplementary materials, says Reid

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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EDUCATION Minister Senator Ruel Reid says where students are unable to afford auxiliary books, they should not be forced to purchase them.

“The Government provides the core textbooks that are required for both primary and secondary schools. Those (workbooks) are not mandated by the Government, but schools and parents have found them convenient to use. We are mindful of the cost for many of these additional supplementary materials and again we are saying to schools to the extent that students are unable to afford these, you can't force them”. he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“…We don't want schools to pressure parents into purchasing additional material over and above what the Government is providing.”

Reid noted, however, that schools have kept within the ministry's guidelines as much as is possible and that where there are discrepancies the ministry does intervene “and tries to regularise” the situation.

At the same time, the education minister said Government was again spending approximately $800 million on textbooks for approximately 400,000 students in primary and secondary schools, and was on track with delivery for the 2018/19 academic year, which begins in the first week of September.

Literature books, he said, have been added to the list of texts provided for rental to high school students, stressing that, while what is in place are rental programmes for both primary and secondary schools, where students do not pay to use the books, but must return them according to schedule, “schools have developed a robust management and accountability system [and] in the main the system has been working quite efficiently”, he stated.

Reid noted that there is a procurement process for texts, adding that Government does not have a hand in the actual printing of the books, as was the case in the past. “We procure from suppliers; whoever they want to print is up to them. What we want at the end of the day is the printed product,” he stated.

And he pointed out that there is a general understanding between the ministry and schools that booklists are to be made available by early July each year.

— Alphea Saunders

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