A student wears a long gown and cap and solemnly walks up to the platform where he accepts a handshake and a certificate. His parents are ecstatic as they clap enthusiastically and take pictures. The student has just graduated from basic school!
I suppose you might have been surprised that even at a young age graduation has become the accepted normality for Jamaican students. Of course they also graduate from primary and prep schools as well as secondary and tertiary institutions.
Our fascination with the pomp and procedures of graduation has lead to many schools capitalizing on this by charging huge fees for graduation.
What are parents paying for?
Those who pay for their children to graduate are paying for gown rentals, souvenirs, programmes, pictures and other costs such as decorations for the venue. There are also often performers to pay and if the school has to rent the venue for the ceremony that is an additional cost.
In fact it might even be argued that the graduation is more for the parents than for the children, especially the very young ones who might not even know why they are celebrating.
Cost of graduation
So what is the cost of this most important ceremony?
Well that depends on the school your child attends, the level of the child’s education as well as the culture of the community.
Some schools charge between $5,000 to $10,000 for their graduation ceremony. That is quite a bit of money for some, especially considering that some of these schools are attended by students from the lower income sections of society. Ironically despite the prohibitive costs, parents are so excited about seeing their children graduate that they are willing to sacrifice anything in order to pay for it.
Some prep schools have a scaled down ceremony which includes black and white attire and a reduced cost of $1500. Some high schools offer sophisticated souvenir packages at their graduation ceremony in order to entice students to attend.
My take is although the cost for the ceremony might seem high it is important to remember that since they are optional, parents can choose not to let their child attend. However, the accomplishments of students should be given attention so it’s all a matter of being reasonable with the costs associated with graduation.
What’s your take on the issue?
Teri Ann Renee Paisley
Gleaner Online Writer