Our Readers' Opinions
February 15, 2013
St Mary’s Roman Catholic School

Fri Feb 15, 2013

Editor: Since the St Mary’s Roman Catholic School informed parents that it would be seeking a contribution of $75.00 per student, per month, or in the case of a parent having more than one child, $50.00 per student, per month, or in any event $200.00 per family, per term, the negative reaction of some parents and some members of the public has left me dumbfounded.{{more}}

Something is terribly wrong with our society when we vociferously object to making a regular contribution to our children’s education, but yet, at the same time, indulge our children in pricey fast foods almost daily, top up our cell phones habitually and outfit our cars and ourselves without counting the cost. In a time of tight budgets, expenditure has to be prioritized and sacrifices have to be made. Our limited resources must therefore be spent on what matters. Apart from the basic needs of food, shelter and health care, is there any investment more worthwhile than investment in our children’s education? In my opinion, there isn’t.

St Mary’s R.C. School is not a public school, as many wrongly believe. It is what is termed an “assisted private school”. This means that it receives some assistance from the Government, usually in the form of payment of teachers’ salaries, some utilities and the provision of some furniture and miscellaneous items. Everything else must be paid for by the school. Before January 2013, St Mary’s R.C. School charged a paltry maintenance fee of $25.00 per student, per term, which was rarely enforced, if at all. It is from these resources and the donations of well wishers that the property and the school’s equipment are maintained and specialist teachers such as for Art, Music and Reading are paid. As an assisted private school, the cost of acquiring additional space, whether in the form of purchasing land, renting additional space, constructing an addition to, or renovating its current building, must also be borne by the School.

Therefore, if we, as parents, are now being asked to assist in offsetting the cost of improving the facilities for our children, why should we refuse or resist? Without diminishing the genuine cases of persons who are simply unable to come up with the $75.00 at the end of each month, it must be said that many others who have categorically stated their intention to not pay, are able to do so. Many of these same parents most likely paid upwards of $150.00 per month for their children to attend a pre-school. Similarly, when the price of gas (petrol) rises, the extra money is found to pay the increase or sacrifices are made in other areas of our lives. Of course, there are some who will truly find it difficult to make the financial contribution, but informing the school’s acting principal of this difficulty and offering an alternative means of contribution (as some have done) will show good faith on the parent’s part. A blatant refusal to pay, on the other hand, simply demonstrates a lack of concern or consideration for the well-being of the students on a whole.

The impressive performance of the St Mary’s R.C. students at the Common Entrance Examination year after year and their recent accomplishments in securing top positions in the Rotaract Spelling B competition, the Courts Reading Competition, the Leo Club Annual Reading Competition, the National Dance Festival and the National Science Fair, speak for themselves. However, I believe the school’s excellent record is at risk of being diminished unless there is an adjustment in the attitude of many from self to community.

Choosing a school for one’s child is obviously a personal, individual decision. That said, we all want the best for our children. I did my research and chose a pre-school I felt would give my children the best preparation for their primary education. Likewise, my decision to send my children to the St Mary’s Roman Catholic School was a carefully considered one that encompassed a long-term commitment of ongoing support to the school. If, with its limited resources and the many challenges it faces, St Mary’s R.C. School continues to excel, imagine the heights to which it could soar if it had the support of all those whose children it molds spiritually, academically, socially, morally and physically.

Zhinga Horne Edwards