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1st Phase of Textbook Rental Programme set to begin

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005 - The first phase of the Textbook Rental Programme being administered by the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development, Youth and Sport is set to commence for the new 2005/2006 academic year. The programme, funded by the World Bank to the tune of $1.7 million is expected to reduce the financial burden on parents and guardians who have on an annual basis to contend with rising cost of school books.

Ministry officials say the establishment of the scheme is consistent with government’s policy to ensure equity in access to education as outlined in the Education Sector Development Plan 2000-2005 and beyond.

Acting Permanent Secretary Esther Brathwaite says due to limited funds, it was necessary to limit the programme to students most in need. Braithwaite says the introductory phase will benefit students from forms 1 – 3 of all the nineteen secondary schools on the island. The selection process will be done by a specially appointed school-based committee.

“The school based committee will run the programme, interviewing the students who will apply through this school base committee, says Braithwaite. According to her, “There is a form in place which targets a number of areas and we are trying to be as objective as possible so that persons who are needy are not excluded in one way or the other. The committee will take into account, among other things, the net income of households vis-à-vis the number of children attending school.”

The high-ranking education official says there is also a section in the form where students can apply for a waiver of the rental charges under the textbook rental programme. Ministry officials say the average level financial relief to parents and guardians under the Textbook Rental Programme is in the range of one thousand dollars per child.

The Ministry of Education is hoping to extend the programme to students of all forms within secondary schools, in coming years.

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