By Kamal Haynes, BVI News Staff
Some local parents have expressed mixed reviews about the government’s recent decision to stop paying Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) exam fees for local students.
Following the announcement, BVI News took to the streets of Tortola on Thursday to gather feedback from some parents — all of whom asked to remain anonymous out of fear of being victimised.
A mother of one who is from the Valley in Virgin Gorda disagreed with the decision and said she believes it will have a negative impact on some parents.
“The CXC is very expensive and they don’t pay much here and we don’t have enough to pay for all of the CXC’s that will be required. They need to continue paying for it. People that don’t make a lot of money and can’t afford it; maybe they should just help them out — even half or something,” she told BVI News.
Also in disagreement with the government’s decision is an East End resident whose son attends Elmore Stoutt High School on Tortola.
Due to what she described as widespread poverty in the territory, the parent said she sees the decision as a ‘mistake’.
“I have a child in the high school who within a few years will have to be sitting those exams so it’s telling me that from now I have to start saving for those exams. There are many parents who can’t afford it. As such, it can cause a lot of school dropouts,” she said.
Pay a percentage, gov’t told
The East End resident said even if the government can’t foot the entire bill, they should at least pay a percentage of the fees for some students.
“I don’t see why the BVI government cannot continue to do that. It’s not something that I personally feel that they can’t afford,” she argued.
Each CXC subject adds up
Also agreeing with these sentiments was a resident of Huntums Ghut whose daughter also attends the Elmore Stoutt High School.
This parent said she believes paying for each CXC subject will add up to an overall cost that may not be affordable for all parents.
“For the family that finds CXC important or think that it is vital, they should have the option of government’s assistance because if you want your child to have a well-rounded background, you won’t want them to do just Math or English. You may want them to do a foreign language or biology, chemistry or whichever the school offers. So, it could definitely put an added burden on parents who especially have a lot of children,” she stated.
She continued: “In other countries, the government does not cover all of the expenses but they do cover some of the expenses based on the income of the family. So you submit an application form and you fill in the parents’ job and their income and so forth and then based on that, the government will decide how much they want to cover. So I think that can be an alternative instead of just cutting it out altogether.”
Let them pay
Meanwhile, a businesswoman in Road Town said she believes that by having to pay now, children will be motivated to ensure they pass each exam.
She said: “Let the children pay for it if they want to do it themselves. I think if they have to pay it for themselves, they might take it more seriously … If they know they don’t have to pay for it and spend nothing, they might just not show any interest, they might just do it for doing it sake.”
My parents paid when I was in high school
Also agreeing with the government’s decision is a Long Look resident and a mother of two.
She told BVI News that she wasn’t aware that government was paying the fees prior to their decision to stop. She, however, said she remembers her parents having to pay her fees some years ago.
“Of course everybody would like a help out. In the perfect world, you won’t have to spend a dollar. But when it comes to my children’s education, once I have it, I will do whatever I need to do. Even if I don’t have it, I would do what I need to do to ensure they are ok,” she said.
With one of her children set to begin their journey at the Joyce Samuel Primary School, the young mother said the decision is not harsh or unreasonable.
“I know some people aren’t in the position to do it but that’s just the world. If you need something done, you have to pay for it — especially for those who have children in public school. I mean they already aren’t paying like a monthly fee or a tuition. Yes, you have to pay for books and other resources but I think if you have to pay for exams it’s not too bad. I don’t see it as a terrible thing,” she added.
Why gov’t decided to stop funding
Education Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley said one of the reasons the government decided to stop funding is because some students do not show up to sit the exams after they have been paid for.
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