Despite a new government policy which states that no child should be turn away from school for non-payment of fees, a first form Westmoreland student is unable to take his place in high school because his grandmother has been unable to come up with $5,000.
The student, who was placed at Petersfield High School, has been told that he should not turn up for classes unless his auxiliary fees have been paid.
Parents are no longer required to pay auxiliary fees, which covers items such as PE gears and and support materials, for their children.
However, Mana Sawyers, 57 from Westmoreland, got the shock of her life on Monday when her 12 year old grandson was turned away from school because she could only afford to pay $1,000 of the $6,000 which the school is demanding in auxilary fees.
Sawyers said the boy has a picture of dejection ever since he was turned away from school.
“Mi really would a like them take him back at school because mi nu want him lose focus. From him get send home him lock up inna the room and lock the windows. Him barely a talk and nuh want eat from this morning. Mi a ask the education minister fi please help him,” Sawyers told THE STAR yesterday.
Sawyers told The STAR that she paid what she could afford at the bank but was told by administrators that it wasn’t enough for the child to be registered.
“When mi go there last week mi pay the $1,000 weh mi did have. But yesterday now, dem tell me that I have to pay another $5,000 for the school package but mi neva have it. Mi ask the principal if him can mek the child attend school and mi pay him little by little and him say no, me fi bring him home till mi find the money. That deh big embarrassment mi grandpickney face pon him first day of High School,” the grandmother said.
Sawyers said she is the sole guardian for the 12-year-old boy who is a beneficiary under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
“A me and him one mi a tell yuh. Mi have him from him a baby, from him just a learn fi sit up. And mi fight it with him and batter because mi know di boy have good brain. Him tek him book mi a tell yuh and him nuh fussy and run dung company. Him keep himself to himself,” Sawyers said.
Meanwhile, Clyde Evans, the school’s principal, told THE STAR that the fees must be paid in order for students to gain access to the compound.
“This package contains the major gears needed for school such as epaulettes, ties, P.E outfit, ID card and covers the child’s insurance. We need to be fair,” the principal said.
“How will the child be identified without his ID card? What about his epaulette that proves which school he attends? A child cannot be on the compound without these necessary gears so we encourage parents to purchase the package to have their child fully prepared for the school year. We are very lenient but this parent waited at the last minute to come to us and there is really nothing we can do,” Evans said.
The Government, through senator Ruel Reid, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, said that high schools should not charge auxiliary fees. He said this will be facilitated by increasing the Ministry’s subvention to schools for tuition from $11,500 to $19,000. According to Reid, this 65 per cent increase will facilitate the removal of auxiliary fees.