The controversial idea of having non-Antiguan students pay school fees is just that – an idea. Director of Education Jacintha Pringle, in seeking to clarify statements she made two days prior, said the idea emerged from a meeting and had not even been brought to the Minister of Education or the Cabinet.
She explained that the proposal was mulled at a meeting of technical officers who were simply seeking ways and means to raise funds.
Speaking on OBSERVER AM yesterday, Pringle said, “I spoke from an idea that was borne from a technical meeting. Nothing has been taken as yet to the minister responsible for education so that the proposal can be brought before the Cabinet of this country.”
Pringle took issue with the headline of Wednesday’s edition of The Daily OBSERVER, saying it did not paint a true picture of what she said. “When I spoke on Tuesday morning, while speaking about the problems we are facing in education, I did say we are looking at the possibility of having non-Antiguan children pay fees. To my mind, looking at the possibility is not definitive,” she said.
“Yesterday’s headline made it definitive and made it appear as if I was making policy for the government, and that I would never do.”
The news story yesterday created island-wide buzz as many persons voiced their support or displeasure for the proposal of school fees for non-Antiguans.
Chairman and Deputy Leader of the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) Gaston Browne was one of those.
“I believe that the proposed policy change of the UPP government to charge non-national students school fees, particularly Caricom nationals, is ill-informed and discriminatory,” Browne said.
It must be noted, however, that the proposed policy is not known to be a UPP government initiative and it was never specified that Caricom nationals were particularly targeted.
Browne said, “The position of the Antigua Labour Party is, the children of all non-nationals who are legally resident should be afforded an education and no financial or bureaucratic barriers should be introduced to deprive them of an education.”
He added, “If it is that we have exceeded our carrying capacity and the system is strained, then the government must take responsibility for not controlling and managing the inward flow of immigrants.”