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Ralph Gonsalves 2

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in a Nov. 17, 2022 photo.

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The Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration is, yet again, rejecting the opposition’s proposal that the government pay the fees for students’ examinations at the end of their secondary and community college programmes.

This week, Opposition Leader Godwin Friday said that some students are having problems paying the fees for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).

He said the situation proves the wisdom of his New Democratic Party’s policy that the  government should pay these fees.

Gonsalves, speaking separately this week, acknowledged that there are students finding it difficult to pay the fees.

“But there is no student who is in need who does not get the assistance, either through Social Development or the Lotto programme that we have,” the prime minister said.

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He said that while the government does not pay the examination fees for all students, it incentivises them by giving EC$500 to each student who passes five CSEC subjects, including English and maths, or two CAPE subjects plus communication studies.

The prime minister said that the National Insurance Services contributes about EC$400,000 to this incentive.

He said that for students who cannot afford to pay their examination fees, they get the assistance, “no question about it”, once the government is notified.

Gonsalves said that Jamaica’s experience supports his government’s position on not paying all students exam fees.

He said that Jamaica has found that students would sign up for any number of subjects as the government is paying the fees and only turn up for the ones they think they can pass.

“… there is no system which is perfect in this regard. But you notice what we do, we take care of those who can’t afford it,” he said, adding that last year, the National Lotteries Authority spent over EC$2 million assisting students with school expenses, including books, uniform, transportation allowance, lunch and a monthly stipend.

“It’s a significant programme and included in that is payments made also for examination fees. So, we help through [the Ministry of National] Mobilisation, Social Development, we help through Lotto and then we incentivise …  which is a very sensible and targeted manner”.

Gonsalves accused the opposition of “opportunistically clamouring, ‘Give everybody!’

“Now, when they were in office, none of that was done what we’re doing here,” he said, adding that there were not as many students in secondary school then, because there was no universal access to secondary school.

“So, this opportunistic talk is simply what it is. If you notice how we are addressing the problem, in a sensible, creative manner, to get the desired results, to help those who have challenges, through the two sets of programmes we’re talking about,” Gonsalves said.

The prime minister said the Zero Hunger Trust Fund also assists in some cases.

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2 Comments

  1. They need the money for what I don’t know we can’t even get the road cleaning money till … NOW so how can assistant when they need all the money they can get so their Belly can get bigger because some of them still seeing their (BIG BLACK B…)

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