Today’s Editorial May 09: Subsidising private education

To subsidise private education or not to subsidise private education…

That is the question.

We have learned that three of Cayman’s private schools have written to Government asking for more money.

That money, it turns out, is for millions of dollars in the medium to long term.

As it stands now, the Cayman Islands Government makes a $900,000 contribution to the Private School Association each year. That breaks down to $100,000 each for the nine private schools in the country.

That isn’t much dough.

But giving individual grants to schools is setting a dangerous precedent.

Government subsidises private education because, under law, every child in the Cayman Islands must be guaranteed an education.

The private schools are necessary because the public schools are for Caymanians only. Children of expats cannot attend public school.

But should Government be pumping large amounts of cash into the private school system when its own public schools and curricula need financial attention?

If millions of dollars are infused into the private school system from Government, will the Caymanian children in public schools be left wanting for a better education while the private school students reap the rewards from the Government’s coffers?

Education Minister Alden McLaughlin said he is willing to review the amount of money Government kicks in to private schools, which we think is only fair.

But the private schools must be made to realise that if Government is going to contribute more to their coffers, Government will demand a greater role in how those institutions are run.

Right now the Government has the right to inspect private schools, but only if the schools give their permission.

If the private school system accepts more money from the Government, it will have to allow Government to inspect all it wants without permission.

That’s just one of the stipulations that could be put on an increased Government donation.

Mr. McLaughlin is working hard to improve education in the Cayman Islands public system.

It could be that the private schools are worried that eventually a public education is going to be as good as or better than what is received in a private setting.

And that’s the way it should be.

We commend Mr. McLaughlin’s efforts to improve education in the public schools.

And we know he will weigh the issue of more money to private schools fairly before making a decision.

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