JIS:Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, says the Government has a fundamental position on how education is funded.

 

“In our Charter of Rights, we have a responsibility to provide State-funded education to our youth up to the age of 18. We don’t like a structure where there are fees that impede or impair access,” the Minister said.

 

Senator Reid was speaking at the 10th anniversary of Benevolent Missions of Atlanta, in Georgia, on April 24.  The organisation specialises in assisting underserved schools in both metro Atlanta and Jamaica.

 

The Minister emphasised that a system with less fees will allow parents to give more to their schools.

 

Senator Reid said one of the fiscal challenges faced by the Ministry is the allocation for maintenance. He pointed out that some 30 years ago, the Government began to allocate $50,000 annually for maintenance in secondary schools, with little change over the years. The Minister said he intends to change the amount this year.

 

Meanwhile, the Minister said he has been a student of the education system in Jamaica for a very long time and it is a system with a “colonial perspective… without understanding the developmental spectrum.”

 

He said that children learn at different rates and only in recent times obstacles to learning, such as autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), have been recognised as “developmental problems that children face.”

 

“I say this because I don’t believe we’ve explained to our society how children really learn. Some of them will take a longer time than others,” the Minister explained.

 

Senator Reid praised the Diaspora members for their continued support of  Jamaica and thanked them on behalf of  the country’s 750,000 students.

 

For his part, Vice President of Benevolent Missions, Dr. Conrad Ingram,  presented a list of schools and students that the organisation has helped over the past 10 years.

 

“The objective of the organisation is to leverage the time, talent and resources of members and friends of the community, to contribute to the educational advancement of our youth in Jamaica and in metro Atlanta,” he noted.

 

Dr. Ingram emphasised that “for children in our community to become successful leaders, they must have access to the best educational opportunities available.”