The Private Secondary Schools Association says it is awaiting communication from the Ministry of Education on the proposed fee increase since the issue has not been brought back to the table for discussion and they are now questioning whether Education Minister Anthony Garcia understands the plight of the schools enough to make a case for an increase to the Cabinet.
Minister Garcia, for his part, says he is satisfied with the proposal which will be taken to Cabinet on Thursday for their approval.
Garcia told the T&T Guardian yesterday that ministry officials met with the Strategic Executive Team and looked at the recommendations that have been made by the Planning Division.
He said the team discussed the recommendations “and a note has been prepared for Cabinet and Cabinet will decide on Thursday.”
Garcia declined to say whether the quantum of the proposed fee increase was in line with what was recommended by the association, saying “at this point I am not in a position to disclose any information. I don’t want to prejudge any recommendation.”
But he said he was pleased with the work done by officers of the ministry.
Garcia would not hazard a guess as to whether the association would be pleased with the proposed fee increase saying: “I cannot say whether they will be pleased, all I can say is that the Ministry of Education did its work and the result of that work will be communicated to Cabinet.”
The association has proposed to the ministry that the current $1200 fee paid per child per term for students sent to schools by the Ministry of Education be increased to $5700.
Acting president of the Private Secondary Schools Association Leslie Hislop said it is the hope of the association that in taking a note to Cabinet on the issue, “the minister will also remember his commitment to these children.”
He said for some of the children the commitment may have been “as recent as last year while for others that commitment could be three to four years old.”
For the private secondary schools, he said, it has been 13 years now since the Government increased the fee to $1,200 per student, per term.
Hislop claimed that in a meeting with Education Ministry officials it was revealed that it costs the Government anywhere between $7,800 and $10,000 to educate a child in the public school system.
He explained that the cost of education involves significant costs including “teachers’ salaries, materials and supplies, maintenance of plant and equipment, janitorial and security fees.”
According to Hislop, the seven schools under the umbrella of the association had indicated to the ministry that the formula which is currently used to compute fees is “not feasible and that they cannot simply use a cost of living increase to compute an increase.”