Sun | Aug 9, 2020

Ministry satisfied with back-to-school prep

Published:Friday | August 30, 2019 | 12:41 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer

Minister with oversight responsibility for the education ministry Karl Samuda has said that schools are prepared for the new academic year, which commences on September 2.

“The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is satisfied that all the resources and preparations necessary for a smooth start are in place. We are optimistic that this will be a very good year for the education ministry,” Samuda said at a back-to-school press conference yesterday.

The minister said that he is aware of the financial challenges being faced by some parents and emphasised that the ministry’s non-mandatory parent support contribution policy implemented in 2016 remains the same.

“Parents are encouraged to contribute to schools if they are to be able to finance adequately what is required at each school. It’s a partnership that we are engaged in. At this time, the Government is not able to finance the full cost of running each school ... . I encourage them, to the best of their ability, to make contributions towards the betterment of the education of their children,” Samuda said.

The Government’s contribution to secondary schools is being maintained at a maximum of $19,000 per student while maintenance grants range from $150,000 to $500,000.

“All other support grants to schools, including science, technology, engineering, and maths, as well as technical and vocational areas and curriculum, are being dispersed,” he said.

Samuda added that the ministry has started a dialogue with school administrators to “establish the true cost of educating each child, not in an anecdotal way, but based on specific evidence and analysis of each school”.

He further said that there must be a correlation between the input of government funds and the performance of schools.

“We will seek to establish a budget that will take into consideration the additional funds as required,” Samuda said, adding that textbooks were being distributed to primary and secondary schools in time for the start of the school year.

Just over 120 schools across the island have been identified for repairs under the 2019-2020 critical-repairs programme with a budget of $661 million.

Samuda added that in keeping with the philosophy that drives the ministry, “No child must be kept at home without good cause, and no school must exclude any student registered there except for cause as provided for in the educational code. No student must be prevented access to education in an institution in Jamaica and certainly not because they are poor.”

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com