Gov’t not in position to help private schools

MINISTER with oversight responsibility for the education portfolio, Karl Samuda, has said the Government is not in a position to aid privately owned schools in need of support at this time.

The minister was responding to a suggestion by Opposition spokesman Peter Bunting that it could be left to the Government to provide aid to 30,000 private school students if there is no assistance available for these institutions.

Samuda said that the Government could not afford to bail out these schools by September, although it would continue to give any assistance it can to keep them in operation.

“If we were in a position, financially, to help private schools, I am sure the minister of finance would reach out to them. But, they are not and it is what it is — a private school funded by private capital. It is a business that is run where students pay fees, and it is intended that you wouldn’t be going into [it] for altruistic means, you are going into a business to make profit. It happens to be challenging at this time, but it is a business,” he stated.

Bunting insisted that while it can be said that it is not the business of government to get involved in contractual arrangements between parents and private schools, the service they are providing would have to be taken over by the Government if they fall out of the system.

“We cannot absorb another 30,000 to 50,000 students into the public system without creating chaos and disruption, so some position must be made to ensure that these educational institutions are supported. Otherwise, we would have to make provisions to take these additional students in the public system in September,” the Opposition spokesman said.

However, Samuda said the Government would continue to give whatever assistance it can to these schools.

The private schools do not include early childhood institutions, which are supported by the Early Childhood Commission.

— Balford Henry

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