Minister of Education Anthony Boatswain has voiced concern about the current level of education in the country.
Minister Boatswain who was at the time delivering the feature address at the 2013 Sir Royston Hopkin Scholarship Fund Programme last week Friday said the basic educational needs of the people are not yet fully satisfied.
He said there are some children who come from economically and financially disadvantaged homes and have problems attending school because of financial constraints.
The minister stated that while some parents just do not have the financial resources to send their children to school, there are others who use their money on things that are not relevant.
“There are some parents instead of using the money to send their children to school they are using it on other things that are not as relevant because some of them do not see education as a high priority,” he said.
“No child should be allowed to stay out of school because of financial constraints,” he added.
Minister Boatswain warned that if parents do not spend the money to educate their children, they will have to spend it in the end to maintain them at Richmond Hill Prison.
The Education Minister insisted that education is a right of every citizen.
He said while every citizen of the country should have the right to access primary and secondary education, by accessing secondary education it does not mean that they should not work hard at it.
Minister Boatswain indicated that the concept of universal secondary education does not mean that it would be “a free for all.”
He said universal secondary education does not mean that the primary school students do not have to work hard in order to gain placement at the secondary school.
“That is why we have a number of students entering secondary school who have not mastered the basics in literacy and numeracy, and if we continue along those lines we will be transforming our secondary schools into glorified primary schools,” he remarked.
This, according to Minister Boatswain is the principal reason why the new five month old government had to take the “tough decision” this year to not allow every student who wrote the Caribbean Primary Exist Assessment (CPEA) Exams and did not master the basic literacy and numeracy to advance to the secondary school system.
The senior Government Minister announced that based on the continuous assessment that will be done, a decision has been taken that next year if a student does not display the basic competency, he will not be allowed to write the CPEA.
The Education Minister said government alone cannot be involved in the education process.
However, he indicated that the students cannot be blamed if the teachers are not trained and that their performances are a reflection of what they have been taught by the teachers.
He appealed to all stakeholders to get involved in an all-inclusive approach towards the development of education.
“We are now asking the business community to get involved as well because the benefits from education do not reside in the government alone”, he said.
“We all benefit from improved education of our children and, therefore, we are saying that we would like to have many corporate citizens, NGO’s (Non-Government Organisations), community groups get involved in the educational process of our children as much as possible,” he added.
The island’s budget for education this year was over $110m.