Member of Parliament for Clarendon Northern Horace Dalley has accused some schools of turning away students who can’t afford to pay exorbitant fees for registration packages, adding that Glenmuir High School – for example – is charging a whopping $25,000.
The parliamentarian, during the Croft’s Hill Divisional Conference in his constituency last evening (July 28), said he stumbled upon the back-to-school dilemma after making checks at schools his constituents attend.
He named Kellits High School, Spalding High, Charlemont High, Edwin Allen High, Glenmuir High, and Clarendon College.
“At one of the schools, Spalding High, it is $7,000 to collect the [registration] package… The package for Kellits High School for the first-year students who just have to go in now is $5,000 and for returning students is $7,000-something. I took the liberty to call Glenmuir; if yuh nuh have $25,000 don’t come down there; you have to pay that,” Dalley told the gathering.
He reminded parents that the Jamaica Labour Party government previously announced that education is free. “I am telling you [parents to] pay what you have – pay what you have because they cannot turn your children out of school,” Dalley further said.
He stated that the government, as well as the People’s National Party (PNP) in which he has membership, may soon be prompted to declare their positions on the issue.
“The government says education is free and you don’t have to pay. Parents, you must give a contribution – pay what you have. But the schools are saying, if you don’t pay, yuh pickney can’t come. So we have found ourselves now colleagues and councillors in a dilemma, and I think between now and early in the week, the councillors have to come out, the MP’s have to come out, and the party (PNP) has to come out to say what is this free education because it is not free… There is something that isn’t right and the government must come out,” Dalley said.
He, in the meantime, stated that education will remain the top priority in his constituency, adding that it is the strongest means of social elevation for his constituents.
“Saturday morning when I woke up, I saw 742 messages on my WhatsApp. Over 600 of them were about school fees because we used to pay school fees every year,” Dalley added.
He disclosed that, starting August 8, he will commence meeting with constituents who have children attending school. The series of meetings will start in Croft’s Hill, then James Hill, followed by Aenon Town, Kellits, then Crooked River, and eventually Brandon Hill.
Dalley explained that, following the meetings, distribution of book vouchers and other assistance for back-to-school will commence.
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