JIS: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, says the Government has provided budgetary support for all operational costs in schools.
He added that to ensure that all schools are equipped to deliver quality education in the absence of mandatory auxiliary fees, the Ministry has increased funding in several areas.
The overall allocation for the sector has been increased to $5.3 billion for this financial year, up from $2.6 billion, making the funding a minimum of $19,000 per student to cover operational costs. This includes utility payments and lab resources, among others.
A total of $300 million has also been allocated to hire part-time sixth-form teachers.
Speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) television back-to-school special forum, Senator Reid assured parents that “the design of the education system is such that there should be no fear in terms of impairment of quality”.
“We are making it very clear that every school has been targeted to ensure that they can deliver quality education,” he added.
The Minister pointed out that a Committee is being developed to examine school budgets and the areas to be approved for expenditure, with a view to standardise some areas, to prevent burdening parents with expenses not approved by the Ministry.
Senator Reid said research showed that 88 per cent of schools have been receiving contributions of approximately $5,000 per student from parents. With the provisions by the Ministry, he noted that these schools would now be in a much stronger financial position.
“We must have policy geared towards ensuring that no parent is going to be worse off, and that the children’s interests are protected. And that is what the Government is seeking to do; we are not underfunding schools but we are managing it in a way to deliver quality education (while) ensuring that there are no children that are denied access,” he said.
Senator Reid also said early disbursement of tuition support funds in June and additional payments to be made in September, December and April 2017, will serve to insulate schools from cash-flow problems.
Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer, Dr. Grace McLean, said in addition to the provision of resources and equipment for labs and technical and vocational areas, schools which encounter problems throughout the school year can also request additional support from the Ministry.
“There are really no hindrances at this time. We have gone above and beyond to make sure that we reorganise the resources internally for schools to have enough funds to be able to take care of the operational costs, so that quality education is provided for students,” Dr. McLean said.
CAPTION: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid