The Ministry of Education says it is looking into the various fees that state-owned secondary schools across the nation are charging registering students.
Minister of Education St. Clair “Jimmy” Prince made that disclosure as he responded to a question in Parliament on Thursday.
Member of Parliament for the Southern Grenadines, Terrance Ollivierre, the opposition spokesperson on education, said registration fees when a child enters secondary school have been increasing and vary across various secondary schools.
For example, he said, at the Girls’ High School, the fee is EC$300 while at the St. Vincent Grammar School, it is EC$220.
The opposition lawmaker asked the education minister to say what is the nature of the fees, if the government pays any role in setting them, the nature of the variation and why they are “so high”.
Prince, in response, said not all the fees paid when a child enters secondary school can be truly classified as registration fee.
“Most of the public secondary schools charge a registration fee of between 10 to 50 dollars. The fees often include the book loan fee, 50 dollars, PE t-shirts, school ties, school belts, exercise books, activity fees, etc. that’s part of the registration package,” the education minister said.
He said that, for example, at the Girls’ High School, the registration fee is EC$25, the PE t-shirt $35, exercise books, $50 for two dozens, school tie, $50, sports club, $50, sports club t-shirt $25 and an optional gate pass card of $10.
“The government at the moment pays no major role in the setting of the fees by the schools. In the case of the Book Loan Scheme, the fee of $50 was set by government,” he said.
Regarding the fees being “so high”, Prince said that the sum total of the fees in some schools “may sound high on paper but we have to examine what those fees are for.
“As I said before, some schools provide the exercise books, school ties, recorder, PE t-shirt, etc., etc., and the parents would have had to purchase these items anyway for the children and they get them cheaper at the school if they buy in bulk, etc.”
He told Parliament that the variation is highly dependent on what the school is providing as part of the registration package and the package varies from school from school.
“The government is currently examining the various fees to streamline the fee structure charged at public schools,” Prince said.