Newly appointed Minister for Education, Anthony Boatswain says there will be no increase in fees for students attending the T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) at the beginning of the new school year in September.
Speaking with The New Today newspaper last Tuesday, Minister Boatswain made the disclosure in response to questions posed to him regarding the previously pending fee increase at the island’s lone tertiary institution.
He made it abundantly clear that “increasing fees at the College will be counter productive”, noting that over the past few years the attendance rate at the College has dropped as a result of parents being financially unable to send their children to school.
According to Minister Boatswain, increasing fees would further result in more dropouts at the College and that cannot benefit anyone.
The issue of a fee increase at the tertiary institution became a burning issue between the College and the Ministry of Education last year when College Principal Dr. Jeffrey Britton sought to defend TAMCC’s intent to increase fees and warned of drastic measures to be taken if the increase was denied.
During TAMCC’s 23rd Graduation ceremony at the National Stadium in July 2012, Dr. Britton explained that the academic year was one filled with challenges, disappointments, improvisation, embarrassments, sleepless nights, frustrations, loss of patience, and few instances of resilience.
He said there were days when TAMCC was out of basic items, and times when salaries were significantly late, especially for part-time lecturers some of whom threatened to stop teaching their classes.
The principal said they also received several oral and written letters with abuses from some business enterprises for outstanding payments for services provided.
Dr. Britton disclosed that TAMCC was in debt of more than $800,000.00 to a vast number of business enterprises and as such the issue of an increase in fees is not an irresponsible one since the college has been forced to stretch to cut cost at the institution without compromising the quality of the curriculum.
One of the burning issues for Dr. Britton was Government’s cut in the College budget to $10 million without an explanation.
He said the reduced amount is inadequate, as the College needs $14 million annually to moderately run its day-to-day affairs.
The then Opposition New National Party (NNP) called on the then National Democratic Congress (NDC) government to intervene in light of the decision of increasing the fees as they believed this could result in further dropouts from the College.
Apart from the general increase in fees, TAMCC went ahead and announced that a fee of $150 will also apply to students registered for labs, workshops, practicals and technical courses.
The school also agreed to increase fees for transcripts, graduation and student letters.
Minister Boatswain said that he held discussions with the TAMCC Financial Committee regarding the fees and it was mutually agreed that increasing fees “is not a viable option” and that alternative options will be pursued.
The New Today could not get a response to this new development as indicated by the senior government minister from Principal Dr Britton as he was said to be out of State.
However TAMCC’s Corporate Communications Officer, Camille Goddard told this newspaper that the College will be guided by the decision of the Ministry of Education.