Dear Editor – The Star reported that the DCC government is preparing the cost of ‘free education’ with the intention of including this in the 2017 national budget, in Star issue 6024 on Wednesday, 11/11/’15, (p3).
It is important that this, and its implications are properly understood by all the stakeholders particularly the parents and public at large.
This brief hopefully contributes to that.
The first thing to remind ourselves of is that in the world we live in today, hardly anything is free.
There are always costs of all things to someone somewhere. What the DCC government is perhaps intending is that it is working out the total cost of school fees to parents within a certain subsector of the education system, and have these included in the 2017 government budget.
What this means is that come 2017, it will be the government and not the parents that will be paying the SCHOOL FEES ONLY of all the students enrolled in a designated sector of our education system.
This is not entirely free as far as the parents are concerned.
The government merely removes the responsibility of paying school fees from the parents to itself by budgeting for this.
Most parents if not all pay taxes in many forms to the government to support the government budget which in turn pays for these school fees.
So most likely, the taxes we presently pay will be increased for the 2017 budget for the government to pay the school fees which it is taking on for the first time.
Additionally, new forms of taxes will be introduced to enable any substantive budget increases to be paid by the government.
The bottom line is that costs of things including foodstuff will be high in 2017 as the government takes more money from us through increased and new taxes to pay the school fees of a ‘fee free’ education in so far as direct costs to the parents are concerned.
Finally, school fees in this country are never based on the real costs of educating a student for a year.
They are more often designed to only partially cover costs in certain cost areas. Affordability on the part of fee payers is usually the main determining factor for levels of fees.
Because of this, schools and education authorities will continue to charge fees to cover shortfalls in revenues from school fees which from 2017 onwards will be paid for by the government.