Authorities say that government schools should not use the so-called “contingency fees” as a condition for registration and admission of students.
Acting Chief Education Officer, Roopnarine Tewari, yesterday warned that under no circumstances must the payment of monetary donations be made a condition for children seeking registration and admission to a school.
In a circular to all senior education officers and head teachers of all public schools, including the practical instructional centres, Tewari emphasized that children have a right to school without any preconditions.
“Recently, it has been brought to the attention of the Ministry of Education that head teachers and teachers of some schools have been demanding large sums of monies for registration and admission.”
The circular stressed that head teachers and teachers are not permitted to request monetary donations from parents, members of the community, private or public agencies or other sources. “Only the Parent/Teacher Association (PTA) has the authority to request donations (in cash or kind) and this must be approved at a statutory meeting where at least 30 per cent of the parent population is present.”
According to the Ministry, the “meeting must be held in the last term of the school year to set the quantum to be requested in the new school year. The notice to the parents must clearly state that they are expected to make a decision on the amount of monetary donation that should be requested.”
The one-page statement from the Education Ministry, said that all monetary donations must be acknowledged, kept and managed by the PTA and receipts issued by the treasurer, or any other member so authorized in writing by that body.
The executive committee of the PTA will exercise authority over all monetary matters and other committees they may appoint to assist them and retain all bank accounts and records for periodic audit.
“The head teacher shall appoint a Parent Committee where no PTA exists, and send correspondence to parents for their agreement on any amount decided on for monetary donations.”
The statement noted that amounts requested for monetary donations must be submitted to the respective education departments and the School Board Secretariat, in the case of school board, for concurrence.
The ministry also warned that head teachers are required under penalty of appropriate disciplinary action to expend and account for monies donated by persons, alumni or agencies.
“They are expected to maintain the necessary financial and other records for inspection at any time and to submit a timely report to the Department of Education.”
It stressed that head teachers requesting large sums of monies for registration and admission will be charged with financial impropriety and insubordinate conduct and placed before the Disciplinary Committee of the Teaching Service Commission (TSC).
The Acting Chief Education Officer also pointed out that any education officer found guilty of condoning these illegal practices, will be disciplined by the Public Service Commission (PSC).
Recently, there have been letters to the editors complaining about some public schools demanding contingency fees which range from $1,500 per year to as much as $5,000.
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