PM: Parents struggling to pay registration fees comment is ‘opportunistic talk’
PRIME MINISTER Dr Ralph Gonsalves
November 18, 2022
PM: Parents struggling to pay registration fees comment is ‘opportunistic talk’

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has described as “opportunistic talk” recent comments by Opposition Leader, Dr Godwin Friday, about parents struggling to pay registration fees for their children’s external exams.

Speaking on Monday, November 14 on the New Times programme of his New Democratic Party (NDP), Friday said that last week and this week, he met various people around town “trying to get assistance from various people who might help them to find money to register their children for the subjects that they have been approved by their teachers to write”.

Responding to Friday on NBC radio on Wednesday, November 16, Dr Gonsalves said the government is moving in a “sensible and creative manner” to offer help to students whose parents are unable to pay these registration fees.

Gonsalves admitted that “there are persons who are finding it difficult to make payment for registering students for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) exams which are administered by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) at the completion of secondary and advanced level education respectively.

However, contrary to claims made by Dr Friday, Gonsalves said “there is no student who is in need, who does not get the assistance, either through Social Development, or on the Lotto programme”.

Additionally, Gonsalves pointed to the annual $500 incentive which the government provides to students who pass five or more CSEC subjects, including English and Math; and students who pass two or more CAPE subjects, including Communication Studies.

The Prime Minister, who is responsible for tertiary education, stressed that for this year, government is preparing to pay out EC$400,000 to CSEC and CAPE candidates who meet the criteria.

He also said that last year the National Lotteries Authority spent over $2 million in assistance to students, either to register for subjects or with transportation and other costs.

Gonsalves said in instances where students are unable to pay the required exam fees, the school sends a note and the students are assisted.

He said “there is a call by some, that we must pay” the registration fees for all students in the various subject areas, and further stressed that his administration is moving in a “sensible targeted manner” to assist students with financial needs.

“When they [NDP] were in office, none of this was done- what we are doing here,” the Prime Minister pointed out.

Apart from assistance from the Ministry of Social Development and the National Lotteries Authority, Gonsalves said students receive assistance from the Zero Hunger Trust Fund.

In his comments on radio on November 14, Friday also promised that if voted into office, an NDP administration will pay the registration fees for all students.

However, Gonsalves said the difficulty with this suggestion is that money could be wasted when students fail to turn up to write certain subjects.

“You have to take care of those who cannot afford it,” he concluded.



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