288 truants nabbed in national truancy campaign
– 34 child employers and parents to be taken before the court
The Schools’ Welfare Department has reported that some 288 truants were apprehended in a countrywide campaign conducted last Tuesday.
According to National Truancy Campaign Co-ordinator, Yvonne Arthur, the exercises which were carried out in Regions One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven, sought to ensure that every school-aged child is in school during the instructional hours.
Arthur said that 17 cases of child employment and an equal number of parental neglect to educate the child were unearthed at the end of the one-day campaign.
She noted that the negligent parents as well as the child employers will be taken to court in a bid to send a clear message of the Ministry of Education’s position on these matters.
Notable, the former Chief Schools’ Welfare Officer disclosed that 21 of the 34 persons who will be taken to court are from Region Four.
The department, only last week, nabbed 38 truants in a campaign conducted in Mosquito Hall, Riverview, Unity and Lancaster in Mahaica, Region Four. It announced that 14 parents will soon be taken to court for abandoning their responsibility to educate their children.
Last month, 17 parents in the Upper Corentyne area, Region Six, appeared in court for the same offence. These parents were ordered by the Magistrate to ensure that their children attend school within a two mile radius of the community they reside.
The National Truancy Campaign Co-ordinator said that the parents of the children who never attended school were counselled on the importance of educating their children.
They were also issued warning letters and letters to visit the Placement Unit in their respective regions to obtain a school for their child. The parents of children who did not attend school for a considerable period of time also received similar attention.
Arthur underlined that her officers will be following-up these matters and will closely monitor these students’ attendance as well as their performance in the classroom.
Some of the truants were referred to the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security’s Probation, Child Care and Social Security Departments for assistance.
Arthur also called on head teachers to make available to the School’s Welfare Department, the names of students who regularly absent themselves from school.
She stressed that a child can still be enrolled at a school even though the latter does not have a birth certificate.
The former Chief Schools’ Welfare Officer explained that while the child is in school, the parent can be advised by a Schools’ Welfare Officer on the way forward to acquire the legal document.
The Truancy Campaign Co-ordinator was able to locate most of the truants from a list supplied by her officers and she managed to apprehend a few others through the assistance of members in the communities in which the campaign was held.
Education Minister Shaik Baksh earlier this week announced that his Ministry will take a tougher stance against truancy and negligent parents will be placed before the court.
He explained that his Ministry is moving in this direction because efforts to talk to parents of truants about the importance of educating their children were ineffective.
Truancy, he said, is a problem in Region Six and other parts of the country and stern action has to be taken to ensure these children not only attend school, but receive a proper education and become productive citizens in society.
The Minister said, too, the government is providing free uniform, text books and other forms of support to students and all parents and teachers must honour their responsibility to support and educate these children.