$2.7- Billion Hike in Education Budget
The allocation to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information for financial year 2018/19 has increased by $2.7 billion, moving to $101.6 billion from $98.9 billion in 2017/18.
This was disclosed by Portfolio Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid in a statement read by Senior Education Officer in the Ministry, Sophia Forbes Hall, at the launch of the social enterprises in secondary schools programme at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on March 12.
He said the Administration is doing all it can, within the budgetary constraints, to provide access to quality education for all.
“We have already removed obligatory fees from the secondary school system. Through a special partnership with the Ministry of Transport and Mining, we are piloting a school bus system in eight parishes for some of our most vulnerable students,” he said.
He added that more resources have been pumped into early-childhood and primary development.
“We have made it easier for students at the tertiary level to access loans through the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB) at reduced interest rates, and the Government has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in scholarships to our most needy students,” he said.
Senator Reid said the Government is committed to advancing the cause of education, and called on all Jamaicans to partner in the process.
“We know that poverty destroys the life chances of our people. This Administration is doing all that is possible to lift all our people out of poverty. For too long we have tried to tax and or borrow our way forward; that approach is not sustainable,” he said.
He noted that for the first time in 14 years, Jamaicans are not being called upon to pay new taxes, inflation is low and economic growth is returning to the economy after massive flood rains and other setbacks last year.
“More people are employed today than any other time in our history. Those achievements must be protected going forward. I call upon all stakeholders to appreciate the delicate balance that must be kept to ensure that we do not return to the times when Jamaica’s economic hopes stagnated year after year,” he added.
Minister Reid hailed the Social Enterprise in Secondary Schools programme, noting that it will equip students with all the necessary skills and tools to make them locally, regionally and globally competitive.
He noted that hundreds of lives will be improved as a consequence of the training that will be delivered over the coming months.
The Social Enterprise in Secondary Schools programme is a joint venture between the British Council and the Victoria Mutual Foundation, which will be implemented over three years starting in 2018.
During the first year, it will be piloted in six schools to benefit 300 students from grades seven to nine and 24 teachers. The institutions are Denbigh High, Clarendon; Montego Bay High, St. James; Charlie Smith High and Kingston Technical High, Kingston; Greater Portmore High, St. Catherine; and St. Elizabeth Technical High, St. Elizabeth.
The initiative is intended to reach 16,000 students from grades seven to nine and 272 teachers from 50 schools over three years.