$5 charge leaving some children out
Before I state my case, I want to say I hope you will allow me to carry the concern I am about to share in your column.
I decided to write to you because I know your column is well read and readers, along with those who write to you, get results when they do.
This is not a personal problem but please bear with me.
I would like to know if the education authorities are aware of what is taking place at one of the island’s public pre-schools, where parents are being charged $5 a child each day if the child turns up for school before 8:15 a.m. and is to remain in the company of a so-called “sitter” before school officially starts.
For instance, Christine, if a child gets to school at 7:30 a.m., because perhaps his or her parents must be at work by 8 a.m., and that child is to be kept by this “sitter”, the parent must pay $5 which will entitle that child to view televised programmes.
The child whose parents do not have that $5 is separated from the other children and is not allowed to view the televised programmes.
In some cases, parents are told if they do not have the $5 per day and they do not wish to leave their child or children alone, they must sit with them until school starts at 8:15 a.m.
The same thing goes in the evening. Parents must pay $5 if children are not collected by 3:30 p.m. and are being supervised. Those children whose parents cannot afford the $5 are again “left out in the cold”, so to speak.
Now Christine, let’s do some mathematics. Five dollars, five days a week adds up to $25 a week. When multiplied by four weeks, it becomes $100 a month.
Now let’s continue. What if the parent cannot reach the school by the suggested time on evenings and is forced to pay another $5? This adds up to $200 a month. Again, what happens if parents have two children attending this pre-school?
That will be $200 for the morning and $200 in the evening, amounting to $400 per month.
Christine, this is totally unfair and unreasonable. Isn’t the “sitter” a teacher at the same school? Let’s say even if she is not, how can she possibly sleep comfortably at night knowing what she is doing to dozens of parents and children?
Some of those children whose parents cannot pay the $5 a day usually cry for long periods when they are separated from those children whose parents pay this ridiculous fee and can therefore watch the televised programmes. How can a school adopt such drastic practices?
Christine, this cannot be fair.
I am asking the relevant officials who can, to do something about this practice.
– Concerned Parent
Dear Concerned Parent,
This may seem ridiculous to me, you and countless others, but parents who can afford to pay the money will do so.
Those who cannot are the ones whose children are separated and this is a matter of concern. No matter how you look at it, the child becomes the victim.
Maybe there is someone out there who can shed further light on this practice. I am already aware that some pre-schools extend the evening hours for pick-ups to 5:30 p.m. After that time passes, parents must pay a fee of $5.
Personally, I do not think that children should be left on a school compound way past 5:30 p.m.
It is not fair to the teacher who also has to take care of his or her own personal responsibilities. However, the morning fee seems somewhat ridiculous.
As I have stated, maybe an individual or individuals out there can shed some light on this practice.