Jamaica Education Minister buckles, withdraws statement


(Caribbean News Service)

Education Minister Ruel Reid has withdrawn statements he made linking a number of schools here to corruption and extortion practices.

“I withdraw the reference of extortion and corruption to breach of non-mandatory fees policy,” Reid said in a statement posted on his Twitter account.

Reid named at least six schools that he said had been using “creative means” to force parents to pay for their children’s education and warned principals and boards that they would face strong action from the ministry for continued breaches.

His warning came amid reports that several schools were imposing obligatory fees on students despite the government providing adequate funding, and in good time, to “cover their operation.

“We have funds and will provide as needed,” said Reid, adding “I am always open to dialogue, however, I expect that principals will comply with the non-mandatory fees policy. Any deviation is a breach.”

The main opposition People’s National Party (PNP) in a statement Thursday described Reid’s action an insult and the most inappropriate way to bring about cooperation.

It urged the Andrew Holness government to remedy the issue by “sending each school all that they need to balance their budgets and improve their programmes”.

The Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) said the statement by the embattled was “unfortunate” saying “we believe that these comments will serve no useful purpose than to create animosity and confrontation and could also destroy the integrity of school boards and administrators”.

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