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As economy tightens and bills increase, parents say Government should consider reducing State College tuition fees

Parents are calling on the Government reduce tuition fees at the Antigua State College, citing the increased costs they will incur as a result of the online delivery of courses.

“Since students will now be doing mostly online classes, via Microsoft Teams, this will require the purchase of a laptop – at least for me,” one mother tells reported.   

Another woman agrees, saying that, since the country’s lockdown in March, she has been working from home and simply cannot share her computer with her children.  Hence, she, too, must acquire a device for her daughter’s use.

The Government, two weeks ago, announced that it will be purchasing 9,000 laptops for distribution to secondary-school teachers and students.  

But College students apparently are not among those scheduled to receive such assistance.  And even if they were, it is unlikely that the devices will be received before the opening of the new school year.

The women say their children will be going up to the College only for labs, since  “students’ work, assignments and grades will be tracked through the portals, and exams, apparently, will also be done online.”

Accordingly, one points out, this new “learn-at-home” set-up will incur higher electricity and Internet bills that parents must now be prepared to pay.

“So, don’t you think consideration should be given to a reduction in fees?” she asks.

Other parents say the Government is assuming that all students will have access to the Internet at home; but with many adults being either unemployed or under-employed, home service has become optional.   

The Ministry of Education has admitted that its recent attempts at online teaching, during the lockdown, failed to reach a significant segment of the student population; access to the Internet was the issue.  

Meanwhile, “things are going to get cruel this September for a lot of parents with this Jolly Beach story,” a concerned parent expressed.  “They not going be able to mind their children,” he predicts.

He is referring to the insecurity now faced by hundreds of workers with the announcement of Sunwing’s pull-out from that resort.  Union officials have said they do not know, as yet, how and when employees will be paid outstanding salaries; whether they will be severed; or when the hotel will re-open.

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