From as early as the next academic year non-national students who are schooled in Antigua & Barbuda may have to pay school fees. “We are looking at the possibility, not from this year certainly, but from next year of charging school fees of children who are coming into Antigua for education.”
That was the word from Director of Education Jacintha Pringle speaking on OBSERVER AM yesterday.
Combined with a recent decline in Education Levy contributions, the strain of providing for a growing population of students has put the Board of Education in an untenable position.
“The Board of Education is crying out certainly and there is just cause,” Pringle said. “You have many children coming in and each child must get a desk and a chair and books must be provided for all of them. It means therefore that there is a great strain placed on that entity to provide for all our school population.”
Pringle said that in order to meet this additional cost of providing education, school fees for non-nationals is likely, though she was not in a position to identify exactly how much will be charged. “We will have to charge fees. The ministry is moving towards that, we have to.”
The director of education added that the culture of “freebs” in the country will have to change.
“One of the things happening is that we really do not pay for a lot of services in Antigua & Barbuda. But in developing countries all over the world, if you live there, you realise that you have to pay for just about everything,” she said. “That is how any country is going to develop.”
In addition, the Ministry of Education may charge fees for the preparation of immigration letters. “We are going to have to begin to charge fees for those services. Every time you have to prepare an immigration letter it involves ink and it involves paper and these things are costly,” Pringle said.