With a high rate of high school drop outs and cash-strapped families unable to put their child through High School, the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation are launching a financial aid program for students enrolled in secondary schools. Following an extensive review of the education sector, the Secondary Education Finance Reform program is incentive-based, according to Minister of Education Patrick Faber. According to Faber, potential beneficiaries of financial assistance are being screened based on performance, as well as socioeconomic needs.
Patrick Faber– Minister of Education
"This initiative which is phased over 7 years and seeks to level the playing field of secondary education financing by allocating public resources to secondary schools on a per student basis and including compensation component of additional funding for students identified as having academic or socio economic need. Related to this secondary education finance reform we are currently engaged in negotiating with secondary schools a restructuring and capping of secondary school fees. This we proposed to include waivers of fees for students identified as having socio economic need. All of you know that secondary schools charge fees and these fees vary widely from school to school program to program. If you are a student or parent, you will know that these fees can be exorbitantly high and even if you are not a student or a parent you know that. Such high fees can result in socio economic exclusion of many within our society who cannot afford to pay. Second, it's in preparation of our efforts of establishing a national qualification framework which we hope to include a national secondary certification which may include a minimal number of passes in key CXC subjects therefore no matter how you acquire these passes whether though formal or non-formal schooling, you would be considered to have high school equivalency."
And according to CEO in the Ministry of Education, David Leacock, the ministries will embark on a household survey where students will be ranked based on financial need. And when it comes to the school fees, there is negotiation to cap them so that it will lessen the financial burden on parents.
David Lealock– CEO, Ministry of Education
"The capping of fees is still in negotiations with the schools, it's still something we are working out. Schools have all of fees that they charge for all kinds of things from supplementary fee which could be just about anything. Basically it's to help them meet operating costs. What has happed over the years is that almost without fail school use to increase their fees and although the law says that they should ask for permission and should give one year's notice in many instances that was not being followed. When Hon. Patrick Faber became Minister of Education, he put a moratorium on increases in fees, so schools were basically informed that they could not increase fees anymore and until we come up with a standardize system because the way the fees system is currently structured its so many different fees. As I said it is hard for us when they make an application (which they never did really) to say we would like to increase fees by X amount. How do you determine what they are requesting is actually justifiable."
"What we have proposed is to come up with a standard fee across schools and that would cover everything. Everybody would pay the same fee. It may vary slightly from school to school depending on what the school is offering and so on. It could be reduced from what may are paying right now and furthermore using this methodology that was describe today, students may qualify for being exempt from paying all or part of the fee depending on the level of poverty."
The program seeks to assist all students and their parents to make education more affordable.
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