Minister of Education, Patrick Faber, informed Amandala tonight that all primary school students in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts who will be moving on to high school this coming September will receive an automatic $300 voucher from the Ministry of Education to help them cover the cost of their first year of high school.
“We will give out, at the time of graduation, vouchers to all standard 6 students in the South,” said the Minister.
The gifts, said Faber, would be presented to them at graduation ceremonies, slated for June.
The Government has identified those districts “as the more needy areas,” he told our newspaper.
In addition to providing automatic high school subsidies for first formers in the South, the Ministry of Education is rolling out its subsidy program earlier than the intended date, to provide continued subsidy to first formers who received grants for the last school year.
Therefore, those who have been promoted to second form are automatically entitled to receive another $300 grant as they go into their second year of high school.
(Initially, the budget earmarked the subsidy only for first form students.)
Minister Faber also told our newspaper that those current first formers who did not receive grants during their first year of high school are being invited to apply for subsidies, because the Ministry intends to award more grants to second formers.
As for primary schoolers in the other four districts — Belize, Cayo, Orange Walk and Corozal — who would like the $300 subsidy, applications can be made to the Ministry, which will make a determination on a case by case basis, he added.
An estimated 4,000 of the nearly 7,000 who completed the Primary School Examination on Monday are expected to receive the subsidy, the Minister projected.
This amounts to just over $1 million from the recently implemented education budget for 2009/2010.
The Ministry of Education has a dual challenge in its hands, in that official information to our newspaper indicates that there continue to be tremendous space limitations in southern schools for students moving on to high school.
Faber told us that this is another major problem that is in the process of being addressed.
“We are opening a new high school at Corazon Creek, Toledo, to alleviate conditions at Julian Cho and TCC, and we expect that the building for Georgetown High School – now being constructed with 8 classrooms – will make space for more students,” he added.
More space, said Faber, would also be created for students at Julian Cho High School, Stann Creek Ecumenical College, Delille Academy, and the former Lynam College, now ANRI (The Agriculture & Natural Resource Institute).
The Minister said that a third area of assistance that will be provided this coming school year is the provision of CXC aid for students through area representatives.
“We are looking into giving assistance to pay for some CXC’s for students, those going into 4th now, so by the time they need to register in November, we will be able to tell them; we will pay for 5 CXC’s minimum,” he pledged.