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Jamaica PM Plans to Extend Secondary Education to All Students

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness (via Miami Herald)

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness (via Miami Herald)

Jamaica’s Prime Minister hopes to extend secondary education to all Jamaican students, a move he will introduce under a new government tuition fee policy.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the government is committed to ensuring that all students receive a full secondary education.

Speaking on the Jamaica Information Service television news program, “Issues and Answers,” Holness said his administration believes that every secondary student should remain in school up to age 18.

He said youngsters would be so enabled, in this regard, under the government’s new tuition fee policy that was announced earlier this year.

The policy, which comes into effect at the start of the 2016-17 academic year in September, will see the Ministry of Education’s subvention to institutions increasing from $11,500 to $19,000 per student.

This is consequent on the impending removal of auxiliary fees which many schools currently require parents to pay for their children’s enrollment.

“This [access to secondary education] is not just an entitlement, but almost a right. To argue against that would be saying that some persons should only be able to access secondary education by virtue of their ability to pay,” the Prime Minister emphasized.

Responding to questions on whether the auxiliary fees’ removal was viable and sustainable, Holness said this will not adversely affect the institutions’ cash flow.

“If the government is giving all students at the high school level an additional amount for the school that they go to, there should be no complaints,” he said, while also encouraging voluntary contributions by parents in a position to do so.

The Education Ministry’s 2016-17 capital budget has been doubled to $1 billion, with funds also earmarked to support building and maintenance projects carried out at schools.

Prime Minister Holness noted that these undertakings are indicative of his administration’s decision to prioritize education.

“Government is always faced with making choices. So it’s not what the government can or cannot do, it is what the government chooses to do; and our government is choosing to spend more on education to remove any barriers to entry [particularly to secondary schools],” he underscored.

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