Recently I wrote about the high cost of attaining a tertiary education in Jamaica. I however neglected the other expensive sector in education, that is, the exorbitant cost of preparatory schools.
The government has provided infant and primary schools which cater to the educational needs of children aged 4 to 11 years old.
These schools provide instruction based on a national curriculum geared towards enhancing literacy and numeracy skills.
The cost paid by parents to attend government schools are relatively low, as those schools are subsidized by the government. There are of course some costs associated with attending public schools such as parents teachers association and insurance fees.
However, if you choose the route of sending your child to a preparatory school, then prepare to spend a lot more than a few fees.
The average cost of attending a preparatory school in Kingston, for example, is between $60,000 to $80,000 per term. Yes that means for one year a parent could spend up to $240,000 for just one child to receive an education!
If that sounds like a lot of money to spend on primary education why do so many persons choose this very expensive option?
Is it worth it?
There are many reasons why persons choose the alternative route of sending their children to prep schools. The biggest factor is that private schools tend to have lower teacher to student ratio and better facilities.
However, a number of primary schools have excelled at preparing students for GSAT even as they struggle with overcrowding and inferior facilities. The students who attend primary schools are in no way inferior to those who attend prep schools.
Some parents have even been forced because of the economic pressure to withdraw their children from prep schools and have reported that they are happy with the transition.
What do the GSAT results reveal?
The Gleaner published a list of primary and prep schools which performed well in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) exams in 2013.
This exam is used to place students in secondary schools.
The results of the report revealed that the prep schools performed much better on average than the primary schools. The cohort sent up to do the exam were significantly higher in primary schools while their scores were less than their prep counterparts.
So do you think prep schools are justified in charging parents such a high cost?
Let me hear from you!
Teri Ann Paisley
Gleaner online writer