Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said on Thursday, during the Legislative Assembly, that her office is developing a policy paper on how to address the cost of exam fees for Cayman students.

The Cayman Constitution says the government will “seek reasonably to achieve” free education for all children. O’Connor-Connolly said that that goal has been achieved for Caymanian students, with the exception of external exam fees, which students must pay for.

Assembly member Kenneth Bryan asked O’Connor-Connolly why, during a time when the government has a surplus, students are not receiving an entirely free education.

“Although there are surpluses,” O’Connor-Connolly said, “we do not want to get back to where we had to go to the UK at the eleventh hour to get our budget passed.”

She also said she has directed her chief officer, Cetonya Cacho, to develop a policy paper “to look at that aspect of our children having to pay for examinations”.

The minister said she recognises the stress such fees can create. Her own family, she said, could not afford to pay for her Year 9 exam fees when she was in school. To get the money, she said, she took two bottles of liquor from her father’s cabinet and sold them to her grandfather.

She said expat students pay annual fees, ranging from $750 to $1,250, to attend government schools, but said this is a bargain compared to the costs of private schools on the island.