Ministry Develops Guidelines for Setting Auxiliary School Fees

first_imgRelatedMinistry Develops Guidelines for Setting Auxiliary School Fees FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail Minister of Education, Andrew Holness, has announced that the Ministry has developed guidelines for setting auxiliary fees for secondary schools.This comes against the background of numerous complaints received by the Ministry regarding exorbitant increases in non-obligatory contributions (auxiliary fees) requested by some schools.In a statement to the House yesterday (July 22), Mr. Holness said that the Ministry “has since been monitoring the situation and we have communicated directly with the leadership of all schools to give guidance and direction in the setting of the auxiliary fee.”Outlining the guidelines, he noted that charges for items such as insurance, ties, IDs, among others, are to be treated as payment for goods and services to be consumed by individual students and therefore, should not be treated as auxiliary fees. In addition, items that fall under user fees should not attract a mark-up.“Although parents are encouraged to contribute within their ability, it is not a requirement for admission to school and no child is to be denied access to an education because of parental failure or unwillingness to contribute,” he emphasised.The Minister said that in arranging for auxiliary fees for the 2008/09 school year, it must be taken into account that the Ministry of Education has increased the tuition fees paid by the Government, ranging from 20 to 27 per cent over what was paid last year, resulting in a fee of $10,500 per student.Additionally, Principals are directed to ensure that where an increase is deemed necessary, including the addition of new types of fees, the total should not exceed the amount for the previous academic year by more than 20 per cent, which is the rate of inflation reported by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) for the 2007/08 fiscal year.Furthermore, Mr. Holness said that Parent Teachers’ Associations (PTA) should be involved in determining the level of these contributions, which must be within the ability of the majority of parents to afford. All auxiliary fees must be attached or related to a finite development project approved by the PTA.“The Ministry of Education does not want to regulate the voluntary contribution to schools. We hope the Principals will abide by the guidance given above and regulate themselves. However, let me reassure Jamaica that the Ministry of Education will act through policy and legislation if the situation is not reasonably attenuated,” Mr. Holness warned.Mr. Holness noted however, that while the Ministry supported the view that parents ought to contribute to the development of the school, the Government had a duty to ensure that no child is excluded by his or her inability to pay any fee charged by the schools. “We also have a duty to ensure that no child is discriminated against or deprived of any service normally delivered in the school because of their economic or social status,” the Minister stressed.He pointed out that the charging of auxiliary fees could be a positive means of involving parents who could afford to contribute to the development of the school and the education sector generally, and that for the most part, “parents are willing to contribute to the development and implementation of the schools’ programmes. However, there are those who are unable to contribute, either because they are unwilling or they simply just don’t have the means. Nevertheless, no child should be excluded or discriminated against or deprived because of inability to pay.”In 2007, the Government of Jamaica abolished compulsory tuition fees at the secondary level and undertook the responsibility of paying full tuition fees for students. Under the fully subsidized tuition policy of the administration, schools now get 100 per cent of the agreed operating cost of the school relative to what they would have collected from parents previously.“The Government is committed to increasing the allocation to schools to eventually reflect the true and realistic school operating cost. This year we have increased the allocation by an average of 23 per cent. We have also committed to consistent and timely disbursement of funds, so that schools can plan and manage their cash flow,” the Minister said.He said that despite these improvements in funding, some schools still found it necessary to hike the auxiliary fee, which would nullify the Government policy to promote access and make secondary education compulsory. Mr. Holness noted too, that the Government acknowledged that some schools might have experienced a fall-out in the payment of the auxiliary fees last year, and the increases in utilities this year would have presented a challenge, but that based on investigations, some schools have unjustifiably increased their auxiliary fees.The Minister urged persons who are faced with these exorbitant fees, to contact the Ministry directly, any of the regional offices, or their Member of Parliament. “For the purpose of ensuring that no child is denied, I will be putting in a hotline number which will be made available publicly, that a parent who feels disenfranchised can call and get assistance,” Mr. Holness said.In the meantime, Prime Minister Bruce Golding, in his comments on the issue, said that even though there are real costs involved in education that cannot be evaded, “those costs must be managed and they must be controlled. They can’t be costs that are allowed to just run wild to camouflage inefficiency, to cover up bad decisions and in some instances, corruption.”Mr. Golding noted that the education of the country’s children had to be a partnership, a burden that is shared across the board. “The Government has its responsibility, the parents have their responsibilities, and they have been carrying a substantial portion of the burden..We are however, concerned about the approach being taken by schools in use of auxiliary fees. Auxiliary fees are voluntary and we are not going to allow any school to impose them and to seek to transform them into a mandatory requirement,” he pointed out.The Prime Minister also pointed out that the practice where the school gate and the classroom door were being used as the “instruments of compliance and enforcement,” would not be allowed to continue. “It is not going to be accepted, because to do so is going to return us to the days of elitism when education was available to the children of those families who could find the money,” he said.He suggested that schools partner with parents and the community to turn to alternate sources to raise funds, such as fund-raising activities. “There was a time when part of a school’s routine activity involved fund-raising. Some schools still do, but there are some schools which have seen the auxiliary fees as an easier means of raising money. They must enlist the partnership of parents and the community in which they operate. They must start raising some money to support the computer labs that have to be set up; (and) to provide the additional resources needed to provide the additional facilities that the students need,” the Prime Minister stressed. RelatedMinistry Develops Guidelines for Setting Auxiliary School Fees Advertisementscenter_img RelatedMinistry Develops Guidelines for Setting Auxiliary School Fees Ministry Develops Guidelines for Setting Auxiliary School Fees UncategorizedJuly 24, 2008last_img read more