Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 11th 2013 Contents A7
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Education Minister Dr Tim
Gopeesingh has instructed sec-
ondary school principals not to
request money from new students
or their parents during the Form
One registration process.
Speaking at a meeting with
principals and supervisors at the
Rudranath Capildeo Learning
Resource Centre, Couva, yesterday,
Gopeesingh said it was against the
ministry s policy to take money in
the form of registration fees or any
other "disguise" and principals
found guilty of that would face
He said: "It is not acceptable to
charge registration fees.
"We had sent out a circular and
memo on this. There are poor stu-
dents who cannot pay the fees.
You are not to charge any fees to
any student coming in to your
schools. That s a rule."
Gopeesingh s words were met
with sounds of disagreement from
the principals and vice principals,
who did not appear pleased with
A memo, dated July 5, 2013,
from Chief Education Officer Har-
rilal Seecharan to school supervi-
sors referred to a "Memorandum
of August 3, 2012," which stated:
"Principals of all primary and
secondary schools are kindly asked
to notice that in accordance with
the policy of the Ministry of Edu-
"Registration fees are not to be
charged for entry of students into
primary or secondary schools.
"No fees associated with regis-
tration should be pre-condition
for registering students.
"Students placed by the Min-
istry of Education in private sec-
ondary schools are also not
required to pay registration fees."
Speaking yesterday, however,
Seecharan said word got back to
him that a particular school had
asked new students to pay $1,000
at registration to "have a number
of areas fulfilled and satisfied."
Students who were economically
deprived, he said, should not be
forced to pay for anything, it was
He said schools should not
request money, as every govern-
Tim reads SEA riot act to principals:
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ment school received an annual budg-
etary allocation, some up to $1.5 million,
that should absorb their costs.
He added: "Whatever you have to
charge for, whatever you thought you
had to charge for from these students,
you take it out of that funding.
"So there is absolutely no need to
charge students any registration fee.
The poor students will suffer. The poor
students parents cannot pay these reg-
istration fees. Do not take them down
that path, please. Non-observance of
that will obviously result in disciplinary
Speaking afterwards, Denise Her-
nandez, principal of Sangre Grande
Secondary School and president of the
Association of Principals of Public Sec-
ondary Schools (APPSS), told the T&T
Guardian that principals did not charge
a "registration" fee but what is called
an accessories fee.
She said in a circular memorandum,
dated July 3, 2001, principals were given
the authority to charge for "accessories,"
which they were not allowed to pur-
chase with the government s annual
Accessories include homework and
report books and uniforms. She said it
was a misunderstanding on the part of
the ministry, because the money being
asked of new students was not actually
a registration fee.
When asked why schools could not
use the government s annual fund to
pay for report books, Hernandez said
that budget did not allow principals to
charge for accessories and older schools
used two thirds of the money for
"We do not charge for registration.
Government schools cannot charge reg-
istration fees. However, this circular
gives us the authority to charge for
accessories," Hernandez said.
She said she planned to raise the
point with the minister during the sec-
ond portion of the meeting which the
media was not allowed to cover.
Gopeesingh also cautioned principals
not to ask parents to buy textbooks
beyond the booklist, which have already
been supplied to their schools by the
"The taxpayers and the Government
spent $124 million last year to purchase
books for students which you, as prin-
cipals, recommended to be purchased.
Am I correct?" Gopeesingh asked.
He estimated $40 million would be
spent on books for the upcoming aca-
He added: "I request of you princi-
pals, with immediate effect, by the end
of next week Friday... I ask of you to
send your booklists for each of your
forms---Forms One to Six---through
your supervisors, and send a copy of
that to the Chief Education Officer by
e-mail and a copy to the minister so
that we will be able to see what you
are asking parents to buy."
He said the ministry had checked
with schools last year on which books
they required for each subject, yet par-
ents had been asked to buy additional
books in the same subject areas.
"That is unfair to the parents. Some
parents cannot afford and you ask them
to buy two and three books in one par-
ticular subject, when you recommended
a book for that subject. Why don t you
use that book for the subject?" he
A cross-section of secondary school principals and supervisors acknowledge questions asked by the Minister of
Education Tim Gopeesingh during yesterday's meeting at the Rudranath Capildeo Learning Resource Centre.
PHOTO: TONY HOWELL
Stop charging for registration
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