Public school students may soon have to pay a nominal one time registration fee at the beginning of every school year if the government buys into the idea which Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilsons insists will go a long way in helping with additional school expenses.
“I think the time has come for the government to look at the feasibility of a small registration fee because it’s been a long time coming,” said Mrs. Wilson who appeared as a guest on Love 97’s daily talk show Issues of the Day on Tuesday.
“I think it can go a long way in the day-to-day operation of the schools and it will take some of the weight off of the national budget because there are some things we would be able to do at the school level that will take some pressure off of the government.”
And while every public school student will be required to pay the one time registration fee every September, Mrs. Wilson also proposed a waiver for students who can prove they cannot afford to pay.
Students already receiving government assistance, she said, should receive the waiver.
And while more often than not education takes the lion share of the national budget, Mrs. Wilson argued that the money is split in so many different directions that the money doesn’t go very far.
In fact, she said the majority of the money is spent absorbing exorbitant expenses and salaries.
“I must say that the government and the union have not done a good enough job in advising the public of what all the funds allocated in the budget are used for,” Mrs. Wilson said.
“When you look at the budget allocation in the Ministry of Education and then in the Department of Education, you will see that it speaks not only to salary and emoluments, but also to light, water, telephone, security, insurance and a whole host of other things that have to be financed.”
She continued, “So because the Ministry of Education is the largest ministry it gets the lion share. We are the only government institution that has school on every island and cay. We have 161 institutions on 24 islands and cays.”
“You may have another government entity that does not have persons on a small cay but you will definitely have a school and if there is one student, you will definitely have one teacher. And so when we say the lion share, we must look at it with a different perspective.”