Minister Faber has also been touring around the country as a part of the “Stepping Up” ceremony. At these ceremonies, lucky students who are moving from primary to high school are able to receive a grant to help them on their education journey and take some of that financial burden away. Honorable Patrick Faber told us more.
Honorable Patrick Faber: “I am going around the country now engaging in what is known as the Stepping Up Ceremonies. This is the second year that we are doing it in the manner of calling it the Stepping Up Ceremony and what it is, is that we distribute the subsidy tickets to those recipients from across the country. On Wednesday I was in Belmopan doing the Belmopan area, yesterday we were in Orange Walk and Corozal, on Monday we will be in Punta Gorda for the Toledo District and Independence for the Stann Creek District, on Tuesday we will be in San Ignacio Benque Viejo and on Wednesday in the Belize District area. What it is, it is a three hundred dollar grant to assist students who are stepping up from primary school into high school to ensure that they can afford the payment for their high school years. It is applied for the first and second year, if the student passes and is promoted to second year it will automatically move up and it is our intention as we are now already rolling out for this to be expanded even to the third and fourth form. The other element of expansion that we will see this year is in a few of our schools, namely: Corazon Creek which is a Government-owned school in the far south of our country, below Punta Gorda and also Julian Cho in the Toledo District. I believe we are beginning with Gwen Liz as well in Belize City. These are Government owned schools and we are looking to ensure that the subsidy is given automatically in these schools and is given from first to the fourth form or at least when they are starting at Gwen Liz, those students who come in first will receive it all the way through.”
The Minister also took this opportunity to points out an issue that has been plaguing certain primary school students as of recent. He pointed out that there are schools that are putting arbitrary fees for the students to pay every year, and says that the Ministry does not condone this.
Honorable Patrick Faber: “I am noticing that there are some primary schools, I am not ready to call out their names yet, we are engaging with their management to ask them to desist from adding on additional fees to the primary schools. There are primary schools in this city who have essentially taken the bill to almost $200 while the actual registration fee is only about $70 or $75. I have noted one school in particular that is adding on an activity fee or a kind of Cultural Activity fee of some sort for $80, $90. That is absolutely ridiculous and the Ministry does not support that at all, in fact, I don’t believe that any primary school should be at that range. The more the Government tries to bring down the cost of education as it relates to these fees we have some schools that are trying to jack it up further. The Government and the Ministry will absolutely resist that so where it comes to my attention I have asked the chief to call those managements and to deal with those matters. Parents should take a stand as well, the only reason I see this is because the parents come to me with the bills asking for help when in fact they should take a stand jointly against the school that is trying to fleece them so to speak. While I understand education is expensive we cannot continue to pressure our parents and our students to give more when in fact they simply cannot afford to do so.”
The high school subsidies have been helping students all over the country. Minister Faber said that the goal is to try and lower the cost of secondary education so as to ease the burden on the parents. ///////////////