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NPTA on school fee ultimatum
While the National Parent Teacher Association (NPTA) is supporting Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeeesingh’s directive to principals to stop charging registration fees, there must be clear-cut guidelines set by the ministry on the schools’ requirements, what parents should pay for and accountability by schools for receiving such funds to avoid confusion.
So said NPTA president Zena Ramatali yesterday. “If it is the Government’s responsibility to provide free education, the necessary infrastructure, text books and other equipment through the State, principals should not now go over that and add additional requisitions,” Ramatali told the T&T Guardian in a telephone interview. “No parent should have to pay $1,500 to $2,000 to enter a school and children should not be victimised.
“They should only have to pay for those items that are absolutely necessary for the children’s development that the school cannot provide.” She added, “If the Minister does not want parents to pay for certain items he must make it clear what the schools want, what parents should have to pay for and how schools should account for the monies received.”
She said seeing that the ministry was not providing for report books, PE (physical education) uniforms, homework books, ID badges and other items in their allocation to principals, schools should have clear-cut guidelines to prevent complaints and confusion about schools charging registration fees and for accessories. Ramatali said parents should not have to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of any school as that was the responsibility of the Ministry of Education.
When asked if certain schools needed funds for additional security requirements, she said in government schools the ministry paid the bill to hire security firms. However, she believed that the security arrangements for denominational schools were slightly different. Ramatali said the denominational schools most likely received partial funding from the ministry for security and if any kind of fees or contribution had to be taken up from the parents, they should not be exorbitant.
She said the reason for the disparity was that the denominational schools carried 20 per cent of the students who came from higher socio-economic backgrounds.