J'cans rally to send poor boy to school ...Ministry lashes Petersfield administration
Having been turned away from school because his grandmother could not find the auxiliary fees demanded by administrators at Petersfield High School, a 12 year old Westmoreland boy will today take his place at this institution.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information yesterday condemned action by the administrators of the Westmoreland school.
"I have, through the Chief Education Officer, Dr. Grace McLean, instructed the principal to ensure that the student must be in school tomorrow," Senator Ruel Reid, the education minister said.
duty of care
"I have taken a zero tolerance approach to schools that disobey the ministry's guidelines. Our institutions need to adhere to the Ministry's 'No Tuition Fee'policy and must exercise their duty of care for all students. Our Principals have to appreciate the value of our children accessing their education," stated Senator Reid.
He said that the school's board will be summoned for further discussions on the matter.
Meanwhile, the publication of the story in THE STAR yesterday elicited positive responses from several persons have come forward offering to assist in paying the boy's fees.
Mana Sawyers, the boy's grandmother, was touched.
"Mi feel good til mi can't even talk," Sawyers said.
Sawyers, 57 from Westmoreland, got the shock of her life on Monday when her 12 year old grandson was turned away from school because she could only afford to pay $1,000 of the $6,000 which the school is demanding in auxiliary fees.
Clyde Evans, the school's principal, told THE STAR that the fees must be paid in order for students to gain access to the compound.
"This package contains the major gears needed for school such as epaulettes, ties, P.E outfit, ID card and covers the child's insurance. We need to be fair," the principal said.
However, his stance was in direct opposition to a new government policy which states that no child should be turn away from school for non-payment of fees.
Sawyers had paid $1,000 of the $6,000 fees being demanded by the school. She said that is all she could afford. However, her despair turned to happiness yesterday as persons made contact with her via telephone, pledging assistance to her grandson.
"Mi turn idiot how mi frighten! Mi nuh know how fi thank everybody and mi haffi big up THE STAR. It look like a God send them. One lady from the Ministry call and tell mi say she hear what happened and give me her number and say mi fi call har if dem treat the pickney any way," she said yesterday.
Her grandson, who was previously a picture of dejection, is now in high spirits as he even spoke to some of the persons that promised to contribute to his education.
"It's the first time mi ever see him happy suh enuh. Him happy and a jump up and some of the people dem talk to him and comfort him and all a run joke with him. Him can't wait fi day light fi him go school," Sawyers said.
"Mi glad mi speak up man because mi did feel so hurt. The man mek mi feel like me a worthless woman when God see and know how mi try wid mi grandson. Thank you, everybody may God bless un upon unu journey."