School of the Nations to raise fees

Following reports that the Mae’s schools will be raising their fees due to rising operational costs, Director of the School of the Nations Dr Brian O’Toole yesterday revealed that there is a likelihood that his school’s fees will be increased as well.

Dr O’Toole made the disclosure after the question was posed to him during a press conference which followed the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Conference on Educational Leadership.

“You ask any business person anywhere in the world and operations increase, electricity prices increase, everything increases, so Nations is looking at it. We will not increase the fees by that extent but it’s the nature—Cambridge University increases their fees every year—that’s what people do all over the world,” Dr O’Toole stated.

Even with the announcement, he assured that any increase will not be as drastic as the new ones proposed by Mae’s, stating that they will “make it a balance between ensuring we can get the best quality and making sure that we respect the reality of the pockets of Guyana”.

“…We will not increase our fees by 40% but it’s likely that we will review the fees because if we want the best possible education—we charge at the moment maybe [US]$1,200—in international terms, that’s a very, very low figure,” he pointed out.

“So we want to continue to ensure we offer it to as wide a cross-section as possible. We have more than 60 kids here on scholarship and you’re very familiar with the battle that we had over the 14% VAT and for all the fancy cars you see in the car park, we have other people that walk here, we have people that come by bicycle and they’ve enriched the school and we want to make sure that they stay. So, we certainly aren’t going to price them out of coming,” he added.

Dr O’Toole noted that in addition to the school’s more than 3,000 students, which includes students from its pro bono school operated in Berbice, School of the Nations is looking to also establish branches in the North West District and the Rupununi.

Meanwhile, Minister of State Joseph Harmon, during a post-Cabinet press briefing yesterday, stated that the Ministry of Education may need to look into the fee increases.

“The Ministry of Education, certainly I believe, will have to have a look at this and see whether it is in fact an unreasonable impost on citizens. But certainly the private schools—

the arrangement with students and parents is a private arrangement and it’s something that maybe because it will impact so many persons in society, maybe the Ministry of Education will have to have a look at it, but I cannot say now that’s a matter that has engaged Cabinet’s attention and, therefore, I cannot make a definitive statement with regards to that matter,” Harmon said.

Stabroek News reported yesterday that at the end of the last school term, the administration of Mae’s sent out notices that from the Christmas term this year, there will be an increase of up to 42%, depending on the grade level of the student, at the playgroup, nursery and primary levels.

Last year, those with an interest in private education, including educators, teachers and students, had cause to take to the streets to protest, after private education became subject to VAT on February 1st, following the removal of zero-rated items as a measure of the 2017 national budget.

Following months of protest action, in November of last year, Finance Minister Winston Jordan announced in his 2018 budget speech that the tax would be removed effective from January 1st of this year.

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