Tue | Apr 23, 2019

We got no special treatment, says Quality Academics

Published:Tuesday | March 26, 2019 | 12:21 AM
Former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Elaine Foster-Allen, addressing journalists yesterday at a press conference at the People’s National Party headquarters on Old Hope Road in St Andrew.
Former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Elaine Foster-Allen, addressing journalists yesterday at a press conference at the People’s National Party headquarters on Old Hope Road in St Andrew.

The privately run school, Quality Academics, has declared that it does not get any special treatment from the Ministry of Education (MOE).

Quality Academics was responding to allegations raised by the parliamentary Opposition that it gets almost three times the amount paid to other private educational institutions that provide spaces to the MOE for students who belong in the public education system.

The claim was made yesterday as the People’s National Party (PNP) stepped up the pressure on the Government by demanding answers to a slew of questions related to the swirling allegations of corruption at MOE and several agencies within its remit.

Elaine Foster-Allen, former permanent secretary in the MOE and chairman of the PNP’s education commission, told reporters she has information that Quality Academics is being paid $200,000 per student, compared with the $74,000 per student paid to other private schools.

Director of Quality Academics, Wayne Robinson, is also acting principal of Jamaica College (JC). He took over from discarded Education Minister Ruel Reid, who served for more than a decade as principal of JC.

NO FLAT RATE

But while declining to disclose the rate paid to Quality Academics, Robinson said that as far as he is aware, there is no flat rate for private schools that provide spaces for the MOE under a memorandum of understanding.

“I don’t know what the typical amount is. The ministry [of education] decides what the amount is,” Robinson told The Gleaner yesterday in response to the claim that each private school gets $74,000 per student.

“What I can speak to is that we have an arrangement with the ministry that every school has, we sit and work out an arrangement … so that is a negotiated arrangement. We are not getting any special treatment,” he insisted.

Robinson explained that Quality Academics has “special needs” based on the quality of students it receives from the education ministry. “For example, we have students who have been expelled from other schools because of all kinds of incidents, so there are special security requirements …things like cameras and searching tools,” he said.

YACHT PARTY

Foster-Allen, along with PNP spokespersons on education, Ronald Thwaites and Michael Stewart, also raised questions about whether Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) financed separate birthday parties for Reid and another “senior official” at the MOE.

“If so, what were the costs and who paid for them?” she queried.

The party for Reid was hosted aboard a luxury yacht.

Further, they said the nation should be told if anyone related to Reid or any of his personal employees were employed to CMU.

“Are any spouses of JLP MPs (Jamaica Labour Party member of parliament) employed at the Ministry of Education or any agency that reports to the Ministry of Education and what processes were used to hire them?” Foster-Allen questioned.

“The rash of questions surrounding the Ministry of Education, the Caribbean Maritime University, the National Education Trust and the HEART Trust/NTA must be comprehensively addressed immediately,” Thwaites said, during a press conference at the PNP’s St Andrew headquarters.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com