A key element of the program saw students, no matter their economic situation, receiving FREE text books, thereby substantially reducing the financial burden placed on parents to find the huge sums of money needed to purchase the required school books that each year appeared to become more expensive.
However, not only has the initiative become extremely costly to fund, aspects of the program were being abused with some students failing to provide the necessary care for the texts while others neglected to have them returned to the school, so that other incoming students could benefit. The present economic pressure being faced by the government, with billions of dollars in debt, has also not helped the situation, and as such the authorities have this year modified the assistance project.
Therefore government has introduced a new initiative that would significantly cut their costs but transfer a portion of the expense back to the parents.
SELF Programme Coordinator Donna Bassue said the transition to a $25 fee for the Text Distribution Programme for the 2012- 2013 academic year has been going quite successfully.
“The Government’s investment of $400,000.00 in texts for use in high schools this year is reflective of the importance placed on Education.” Ms. Bassue told the Education Media Unit, revealing that the new policy was fully supported by Cabinet and will ensure the programme’s sustainability.
Ms. Bassue expressed her pleasure with the receptiveness of parents whom she said were highly supportive of the new strategy which increases accountability and transparency.
She explained that the $25 fee is per student, but that there was a cap of $50 maximum per household if more than two children required SELF books.
She added further that Education officials collaborated with the Ministry of Social Development in securing a list of students who are part of the Social Safety Net Programme as well as Foster Children’s Programme and granted exemption from the payment of the fees.
The programme has been expanded to include texts in all subject areas and a main text has now been identified in each subject area. The main text must be used by the students while supplemental texts will be given to teachers from which they will share information with students.