It has been drawn to the attention of the Ministry of Education that some (but not all), School Principals and Administrators throughout The Bahamas have been turning away students who are registered or who are entitled to be registered to attend public schools on the basis that their parents or guardians are unable to pay various “registration fees” imposed by the schools.
The practice of charging registration fees has developed over many years in our public schools.
However, refusing entry to students who are otherwise entitled to register and to attend public schools, because their parents or guardians cannot afford to pay such registration fees, is contrary to the provisions of the Law as set forth in the Education Act and must cease forthwith.
As the Rt. Honourable Prime Minister has often asserted, no child is to be denied admission to any public school which he or she is entitled to attend because their parents or guardians are unable to pay registration fees, insurance fees, laboratory fees, or any other fees charged by School Administrators.
Public school education is the primary means by which the government of The Bahamas has always sought to eradicate poverty, provide education and life-long opportunities to all children, most especially the children of the poor and the disadvantaged. Under no circumstances should any child in any school, in any settlement or District, in any island throughout the length of our Commonwealth, be denied entry to any public school because of a lack of money.
With immediate effect parents and guardians of students who have been refused entry into public schools because of the lack of ability to pay a registration fee or any part of such fee are requested to take their children to the school which their children are entitled to attend on Monday morning so that their children might be enrolled and attend school.
Students who are not already registered are required to bring their Birth Certificate, Passport, travel document or other evidence of entitlement; along with 2 passport photographs and the Report Card from the last school that they attended.
With immediate effect all Principals and School Administrators who have not already done so are directed to accept, register and enroll all students who are entitled to attend their school without regard to whether or not a registration fee can be paid. This Ministerial Directive admits of no derogation. All Principals and School Administrators must comply with its terms forthwith.
The Rt. Honourable Prime Minister, Hubert Ingraham, has, further, indicated that the Department of Social Services will be caused to review all cases where parents or guardians are unable to pay registration fees or any part of such fees and to make any necessary interventions.
The Acting Director of Education, Mr. Lionel Sands, has been requested to liaise with all District Superintendents and to personally ensure that this Directive is strictly enforced, commencing on Monday the 15th September 2008.
Carl W. Bethel, M.P.
Minister of Education