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  • Scheming Schools - Students Being Fined For Arriving Late And Forced To Pay To Attend Special Days

    Some school administrators have been finding various means of plucking money from the pockets of students, and Education Minister Ruel Reid is not pleased.

    "This Government's position is free access to public education, and there ought not to be any fees or any other creative barriers used to prevent and deny our children their right to free public education," Reid told The Sunday Gleaner.

    He said that the moves by the schools to force students to pay would be a breach of the education ministry's policy, which bans the mandatory payment of auxiliary fees, with schools allowed to charge an approved rate for some services.

    The education ministry has also increased the subvention to secondary schools across the island, and Reid said that parents who are being asked to make mandatory contributions should report this to the ministry if they are not getting any redress from the school's board.

    But that has not stopped some school administrators who hit students with charges such as a fine for those who arrive late.


    $50 LATE FEE

    At the Corporate Area-based St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS), for example, students are asked to pay $50 once they arrive at school after 8:10 a.m.

    During a visit by our news team to the Spanish Town Road-based school last Wednesday, scores of students were seen handing over cash to a female security guard and the school's dean of discipline, who sat at the entrance to ensure that none of those who were late were admitted without paying.

    Both lamented the lack of change as the students handed over as much as $1,000 to pay the $50 fine. One male student who tentatively handed over his $1,000 note was overheard declaring, "This is my lunch money for the rest of the week, ennuh."

    One student told our news team that if they did not pay the fine, they were sent home. "Sometimes is my friends I ask to pay for me," said the student.

    When one student declared that he didn't have the money, the dean of discipline was overheard instructing him to "go back home". The student, however, insisted, "Miss, a far mi live".

    A mother who turned up to seek a transfer for her child was overheard asking if the students had to pay for being late.

    "We are very serious when it comes to discipline. Once you are late and it's after 8:10, you pay a $50 fine," responded the security guard.

    That position was endorsed by Rayon Simpson, the school's principal, who told our news team that there is a robust and comprehensive policy in the education ministry and at the school to address punctuality and poor attendance.



    According to Simpson, two consecutive inspection reports by the National Education Inspectorate pointed out that attendance and punctuality are twin problems for the school for both staff and students.

    "This policy is not confined to students only, but extends to members of faculty and support staff as well. When members of staff are consistently late for duties and work, recommendations are made to the (education ministry) in August of each year for a fine to be deducted from their salaries," said Simpson.

    "We reject the notion of 'soliciting funds from students'. It has been made clear to all stakeholders that no student is required to recompense a fine or face late detention, providing they arrive at school within a 40-minute grace period.

    "School begins at 7:25 a.m. Where a student is more than 40 minutes late and he or she is unable to recompense a fine, he or she may opt for a detention. We accept legitimate excuses from students or parents. You see, we know who the latecomers are, and we believe we have a duty to adequately deter them from choosing the debilitating phenomenon as a way of life," added Simpson as he said that the school does not have a policy of sending home the latecomers.

    "This is not to happen, and if it has happened in the past, it will not recur because we have made this clear to all stakeholders. Students have the option of taking a detention."



    President of the parent-teacher association (PTA) at STATHS, Robert Mattocks, defended the decision of the school's administrators.

    He argued that the fine was being collected to deter students from arriving late and goes towards the school's welfare programmes.

    According to Mattocks, the decision to collect the fine was made by the board after consultation with various stakeholders, including the PTA, in January.

    "To be honest, if by any chance you get the stats on the lateness from that time (January) to this time now, you will see more than an 80 per cent improvement in terms of attendance. Even the teachers have actually started saying 'yes, it is a great initiative because they can actually now teach a full class in the morning," said Mattocks.

    He said that the students who pay are sometimes the ones who benefit from the school's welfare programmes.

    "That same $50 that they pay, it goes right back to the welfare committee, and that welfare committee takes care of the welfare programme, and it also goes back into the bus fare programme because we do give them bus fare in the evenings to go home."

    Some schools have found even more creative ways to raise funds, purportedly for their welfare programmes, by introducing a raft of 'special days', which requires students to pay.

    The schools have instituted days when students are required to wear jeans, hats, glasses, and sneakers and are asked to pay as much as $100 if they wear these items and $200 if they don't.

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  • Jamaican Woman In BVI Chopped To Death By Husband

    A Jamaican woman has been chopped to death in the British Virgin Islands and her husband, a native of St Vincent and the Grenadines, in police custody. 

    She has only been named as Sherika. 

    BVI News quoted the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force as saying that the incident took place yesterday evening at the couple's home in the Greenland area of East End on the island of Tortola.  

    Her throat was also slashed.

    BVI News reports that the man had previously been shot by gunmen during a robbery, while he was on a visit to Jamaica to see Sherika who lived in Clarendon. He was treated at the May Pen Hospital. 

    The couple were married after his recuperation and they subsequently relocated to the BVI.

    The murder is the sixth this year for the country, which has a population of 28,000 people.


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  • Wasp nest being used to tighten vigana - Jamaican gynaecologist calls it madness

    A number of Jamaican women have rejected a new trend to place wasp nests on the pubic region to tighten the vagina, saying that they prefer traditional methods like inserting cake soap in the birth canal or sitting in vinegar water.

    Some United Kingdom online retailers have been selling oak galls-nests, which contains wasps eggs. They claim that it is good for vaginal rejuvenation.

    "Da one yah kinda shock we. Mi prefer to take the cake soap and push it in my vagina," a woman in downtown Kingston, who asked for anonymity, told THE WEEKEND STAR. "Mi caan see between that one deh."


    Vinegar mixed


    She continued: "Mi would rather use the vinegar and warm water. And my friend did tell me about the alum, and it did actually work because she did a run road. Mi would try that too."

    The woman also said that she has tried the vinegar mixed with warm water method before and it worked for her.

    Another woman was taken aback by the idea of using the wasp nest tightening method based on the pain one feels from a wasp sting.

    "When one wasp sting, it so hot. And that area is so tender, so you can just imagine when so many down there," she told THE WEEKEND STAR.

    But gynaecologist Michael Abrahams dismissed the method, calling it "madness". He also warned women against trying it.

    "It's crazy. But what I understand is that it makes the vagina dry," Abraham explained. "When it dries out, it can cause irritation. When you have irritation and it gets dry, you are more likely to have abrasion during sex."

    He added: "Abrasion in sex makes it easier to get certain infections. So your partner may have a STI that you may or may not get, but with this it is much easier to transmit HIV and other infections."

    According to Abrahams, there are a number of exercises that women can utilise to tighten the vagina.

    "There is a set of exercises called Kegel. If a woman is disciplined and does these regularly, it usually will help to make it (vagina) tighter," Abrahams said.


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  • J'can comedian proposes to male lover onstage

    Jamaican comedian Gabre Nelson recently proposed to his male companion at a live show in New York. The comedian, who placed second in the Comedy Buss competition in 2007, told THE STAR that he reserves the right to propose to a male if he so desires.

    "It's freedom of speech in this country, so I can pop the question wherever and whenever I feel like. I had fans in the audience, so I had a level of support. However, after I left the venue, I was told that there was an uproar by some persons. When they first heard about the proposal, some people started to make noise, then when they saw that it was a male everybody became silent. I don't know if they were shocked," he said.

    The comedian further stated that he went ahead with his decision to propose to his companion on stage, after a fellow comedian decided to sing Buju Banton's Boom Bye Bye during his set.

    "I came second in Comedy Buss, so number two is certainly my number. They were describing me as a gay man on the show, then a comedian went up there and sang Boom Bye Bye. So I went up there, performed the same song, and then I proposed to my male lover, whom I have been with for eight years.

    I went on my knees and he said, 'Yes'," Nelson proudly said.

    The comedian, who now resides in the US, says he has no interest in Jamaica.

    He also said Jamaicans are backward as it relates to their acceptance of the homosexual community.

    "I don't need to come to Jamaica. Maybe for a three-day visit, but nothing much. I am still very much a comedian, but I am mostly into business, and I have my own fanbase on Facebook and Instagram. Your sexuality does not have anything to do with your personality, and I don't see the need to hide that I am gay. I knew I was gay from age six, but I never got involved with a man until I was 25," said the father of three biological children.

    However, Comedy Buss winner Rohan Gunter, who was also booked for the show, said Nelson's proposal stunt showed poor judgement.

    "He wasn't booked for the show, he was just invited. It seems he planned the entire thing because he even had people with cards supporting the proposal. I think it was inappropriate because it was a family event. We also had a hard-core Jamaican audience in the venue, so his action could have caused a violent outbreak. Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, but at the same time, you have to be careful of your actions because some people were genuinely upset and left the show, while others threw things at him onstage," Gunter said.




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  • Whereabouts of 3-y-o girl a mystery after mom's body found

    Shantel Dyer and her daughter, Orlandi.

    The whereabouts of three- year-old Orlandi Miller remains unknown Thursday morning, following the discovery of the decomposed body of her 24-year-old mother Shantel Dyer last evening.

    Dyer's body was removed from a concrete vault at her home in Pee Wee Lane, Negril, Westmoreland. Her common law husband, who is said to be in America, is being sought in connection with her murder and the disappearance of the child.

    Before he left the island towards the end of April, the three lived together at the Negril home.

     It is speculated that Dyer, who was said to have been in an early stage of pregnancy, was killed by her boyfriend who accused her of getting pregnant by another man. 

    The police confirm that acting on a tip that Dyer was killed, her mother contacted the law enforcers who subsequently destroyed the vault discovered in the house where they discovered the decomposed body, tightly wrapped in over 30 garbage bags and three white sheets.

    The body was positively identified as that of Dyer's by family members by a tattoo.


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