JLP & Tuition Fee : Be Not Deceived
There is an old saying in Jamaica “Tom drunk, but Tom huh fool” and if ever there was a time it is applicable, it is now. I listened last week to a town hall meeting where the Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Holness announced that they would be removing tuition fees if they were to form the next government. As far as I am aware, tuition fees were already removed by the JLP administration at a time when they were in power, and so I was puzzled as to whether they were making reference to tuition at the university level. However, a clarification came from the JLP through Audley Shaw that they will be removing auxiliary fees now being charged by high schools. I recall my days in high school and we were asked to pay tuition and auxiliary fees. The auxiliary fees was used to offset the costs borne by the school along with the subsidy that the schools get from government.
The Jamaican populace must now ask the JLP some questions, given that the taxpayers will be asked to foot the tuition, the auxiliary fees and the subsidies: How will the schools function and how will this be financed/paid for? Unless the JLP can explain to the electorate in definitive words, we should not buy into this farce and trick that they are trying to sell to the Jamaican people. If they cannot, then we can only conclude that the JLP will do or say anything to get into power, even to the detriment of this country. I am baffled that the JLP would want to make such a promise, given the fiscal constraints that we are in at the moment and given the tight financial constraint that the IMF has imposed on us.
Need I remind the JLP that the monies collected from auxillary fees, are the same monies used to pay the janitor, the cleaning lady, the watchman at the school gate and utility bills along with the insufficient subsidy that the Government provides. It is these auxillary fees that buy things for the lab, provide lab coats and certain books for students, so are we to understand that the government will now have to increase grants that they give to schools? Unless the JLP is deciding to increase revenues, I do not see us paying for this removal of “tuition”.
I also hear them saying that they will be making internet access free, but that is for another discussion. In the final analysis the Jamaican people must discern and discern well. We CANNOT afford free education. The last time we made a service free, i.e., public healthcare, the country is forever in dire consequences. We need not look far to see how our healthcare has been compromised because it has been underfunded. Now the JLP who created this albatross around the neck of the taxpayers is coming to do the same with education. We should not be deceived and because nothing is free, someone will have to pay for it. It is therefore important that we change our laws so that important policies such as these are not “bawl out” like Audley Shaw did on political platforms to get votes, but are vigorously debated by our political representatives.