More Ja taxes to education

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Former Jamaica Education Minister, Maxine Henry-Wilson, has announced that the Ministry of Finance and Planning, in collaboration with the Education Ministry, will be reviewing the payroll deduction taxes so that a greater share goes towards transforming the education system.

Speaking during a press conference, held at the Ministry’s Heroes Circle head offices in Kingston, Mrs. Henry-Wilson said: “During the course of this year we will be looking at how we can consolidate payroll deduction taxes and provide an education fund.”

She explained: “A larger proportion of which is now payroll deduction will come to education.”

In 2004, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson established a task force on education. The report, which was made public in December of the same year, made several sweeping recommendations.

The team recommended that it would take $52 billion each year to transform the education system.

But to date, only $5 billion has been allocated to the Education Ministry to finance the process, $3.2 billion of which will be spent on building 19 new schools.

Meanwhile, the former Education Minister said the transformation of the education system is taking place, but noted that it cannot be done overnight.

“It’s not coffee we are flavouring, it is change that we are doing,” Mrs. Henry Wilson told reporters.

She added: “For you to have a coherent education system, it will take time to fit the pieces together.”

Some of the transformation that is currently being undertaken include the implementation of a teachers’ protocol, which would see the certification and licensing of teachers, creating additional spaces in schools, modernisation of the Education Ministry, among other things.

The former Education Minister also told reporters that her ministry was committed to abolishing the shift system, but that that, too, will take time.

Mrs. Henry-Wilson said the ministry will also be converting 88 primary and junior high schools to primary schools.

Meanwhile, just under 52,000 students would have sat the Grade Six Achievement Test by the end of today after the exams got under way yesterday. Mrs. Henry-Wilson said the ministry is reviewing the examination. According to her, several consultations were made and four main proposals were arrived at, one of which includes the right of the parents to choose the school their children will attend.

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