PS: We cannot dictate to government assisted schools
January 18, 2013
PS: We cannot dictate to government assisted schools

The Ministry of Education has no authority to stop the management of the St Mary’s Roman Catholic School from asking parents of pupils who attend the school to make a monthly contribution.{{more}}

“We cannot dictate to them what they should do,” Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Nicole Bonadie-Baker told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday.

The Permanent Secretary was responding to questions posed by SEARCHLIGHT earlier this week, about the relationship of the school with the government, and whether the Ministry had approved the introduction of fees at the school.

Bonadie-Baker explained that the school is not a government school, but a “government assisted” school.

“It is supported by the government in the same way the government supports the other church schools,” she said.

The Permanent Secretary said under the arrangement with the school, the government pays all teachers, as well as the utilities of the main building of the school located at North River Road in Kingstown.

In determining how many teachers are paid by the government, Bonadie-Baker said, the Ministry uses a teacher-student ratio of one teacher for every 25 pupils.

“Based on the student population at the school, the number of teachers paid by the government satisfies that ratio,” she said.

In a letter to parents dated December 3, 2012, acting principal of the school Eula Johnny and manager of the school Monsignor Michael Stewart said, beginning this term, a monthly contribution of $75 a month or $200 a term, which must be paid during the first week of each month, would be introduced.

The letter said the monthly contributions requested of parents would be used to service a loan and to pay for specialist teachers, among other things.

Bonadie, however, said if the school determines that they need specialist teachers, in addition to those paid by the government, “they are quite within their right to pay those extra teachers from PTA funds”.

Bonadie-Baker, however, said the Ministry of Education has been contacted by parents of some pupils of the school in relation to the request by the school for a monthly “contribution”.

“So it is the intention of the Ministry to have a sit down with the school, sooner rather than later, to discuss the matter, to see how the school intends to move forward,” the Permanent Secretary said.